Romania’s Defence minister Mihai Fifor voiced concern on Wednesday over increased Russian military activity in the Black Sea and said strengthening European defence would be a major theme when it assumes the rotating European Union presidency in January, according to Reuters.
“The Russian Federation is using the Black Sea to project force in the eastern Mediterranean,” Fifor said at an international conference hosted by the Aspen Institute think tank.
“The situation has changed dramatically in the last year,” he added.
Romania is one of the European NATO states that has increased defence spending up to 2 percent of of gross domestic product (GDP) since last year, as the alliance seeks to deter Russia and undergo modernisation.
Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu told the conference that strengthening cybersecurity and addressing hybrid warfare threats from Russia would also be an additional focal point during Romania’s presidency of the EU.
Fifor told Reuters that the Romanian government planned to unveil two more major military procurement programmes before year’s end, augmenting already announced plans to buy new fighter jets and other equipment.
“We plan to add two more major programmes after we present them to the Supreme Defence Council,” Fifor said.
He gave no details on what type of acquisitions would be involved in the two procurement programmes.
Earlier this year, Romania signed up to buy Patriot missile defence systems as part of an integrated air defence system.
Romania also hosts a U.S. ballistic missile defence station and has contributed troops to U.S.-led and NATO campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.