Romania, Ukraine Plot Closer Defence Ties

Romania and Ukraine are mulling joining a joint Black Sea fleet under NATO control and creating a Ukrainian-Romanian-Bulgarian brigade, aiming to strengthen the region’s security.

RoUkraine640

Ukraine and Romania agree to strenghten military cooperation | Photo: presidency.ro

Close cooperation on security topped the agenda in discussions between Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and his Ukrainian counterpart during Petro Poroshenko’s visit to Romania on Thursday. “We support Romania’s initiative to create a NATO joint fleet in the Black Sea and we want to join it immediately once the initiative gets the Alliance’s approval,” President Poroshenko said.

At the same time, the Ukrainian President talked about security cooperation between the two states and Bulgaria, as well. “During the Bulgarian President’s visit to Kiev and during the talks we had today [with the Romanian President], we discussed the possibility of creating a Ukrainian-Romanian-Bulgarian brigade like the one existing between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine,” he said. “We have had a positive experience from implementing this agreement and I am confident that such actions will strengthen security and trust both in the region and in Europe,” Poroshenko added.

In a related development, Romania’s Ambassador to NATO has recently talked about plans to boost defence cooperation with Ukraine. “A donation of non-lethal military gear to Ukraine is underway; its details are the subject of consultations between Romania and Ukraine,” Ambassador Stelian Stoian said on Tuesday, emphasizing that Romania attaches particular attention to cooperation with Ukraine on defence.

Both countries view Russia assertiveness in the region with deep suspicion. Ukraine remains in conflict with Russia over Moscow’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and over its unilateral annexation of the Crimea peninsula. Romania meanwhile keeps a wary eye on Russia’s support for the breakaway Transdniester region in neighbouring Moldova – and is a firm supporter of NATO’s expansion.

Corruption was another topic on the agenda of the official visit and was the subject of a bilateral agreement. “We have signed two bilateral agreements, one regarding military transports and one on joint patrols of the border between Romania and Ukraine, which will enable the two states to more efficiently fight corruption, smuggling and illegal migration,” Romanian President Iohannis said.

The two leaders also said sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis must not be lifted prematurely. “Discussions about the revocation of the EU sanctions against Russia can not take place until Moscow’s aggression ends. Any attempt to revoke the sanctions on Russia would represent an indubitable threat for regulating the situation in Donbas [in eastern Ukraine] and Russia will continue its aggressive actions,” Ukraine’s Poroshenko said.

Balkan Insight

22 April 2016