During a meeting with the Romanian Defense Minister Mihnea Motoc in Brussels on Tuesday, Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev announced that Bulgaria is ready to take part in the multinational NATO land brigade based in Romania. Their meeting took place on the sidelines of talks bringing NATO defense ministers together in Brussels.
According to his statement quoted by Bulgarian Public broadcaster BNR, Sofia could deploy 400 troops for training and joint exercises.
“Together with my Romanian counterpart we are reached the conviction that a more tangible presence of NATO is needed in the Black Sea region. We have a common concept and will probably bring the issue forward in a joint manner at the Warsaw summit,” Nenchev stated, Novinite reports.
In his turn, the Ukrainian Defense minister, Stepan Poltorak also expressed his country’s interest in taking part in the Romanian-Bulgarian multinational brigade, after talking to the Romanian DefMin Motoc, Interfax agency reported.
“It’s very important that we join efforts to fight an enemy that has been threatening the security in this region. We are interested in participating to preserve security on the Black Sea,” the Ukrainian minister stated.
The 2016 Warsaw Summit is due on June 8th and 9th, with a main focus on alliance bases in Central Europe.
Separately, the ministerial meeting in Brussels ended with participants formally approving the deployment of four battalions, consisting of a total of 4,000 people, to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
At the same time, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said before the meeting in Brussels on Tuesday that NATO was considering a Romanian offer to provide a brigade, typically around 5,000 troops, which could coordinate alliance training and possibly play a deterrent role, Reuters reports, quoted by Romanian media.
Southern flank allies Bulgaria and Romania are pushing for NATO to expand its maritime presence in the Black Sea, where Russia has a naval fleet, as well as more alliance troops to the region.
Three weeks before a critical NATO summit in Warsaw, the alliance’s defence ministers were to approve deployment of some 4,000 troops which, backed up by rapid reaction forces, could help deter a repeat of Moscow’s show of force in Crimea elsewhere. The battalions will be under NATO command and deployed on a six-to-nine month rotating basis to the former Soviet states of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland.
Moscow has warned on Tuesday Russia will take defence measures if NATO troops are increased in Eastern Europe.