Washington has sent fighter jets to Romania to patrol the skies near Russia’s borders as part of a NATO mission designed to deter Moscow in the Black Sea region and around Ukraine.
F-15E Strike Eagles of the 336th Fighter Squadron arrived at Campia Turzii in central Romania’s on Wednesday. They will patrol the skies, taking off from an air base near the country’s Black Sea coast along with Romanian warplanes and Italian Eurofighter Typhoons, NATO said.
The arrival of American planes contributes to the Western military bloc’s “deterrence in the region,”Joel Carey, Brigadier General, was the Allied Air Command deputy Chief of Staff Operations. “The ability to rapidly deploy Allied air assets in support of NATO is vital to our readiness and demonstrates the force’s agility.”
In 2014, NATO boosted surveillance flights and air patrols near Russia’s western borders, as part of what the bloc calls ‘enhanced air policing’.
NATO and Russia closely track each other’s military flights, and have accused each other of dangerous maneuvering in the skies. Russia’s state civil aviation agency said this month that a Russian passenger airliner traveling above the Black Sea was forced to suddenly change altitude due to a NATO spy plane that was flying nearby.
In recent weeks tensions have flared between Russia and NATO as Western media and officials claim Russia is building military equipment and troops with the potential intent of invading Ukraine. At a Thursday meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg claimed that “any further aggression against Ukraine will have severe consequences.”
Russia repeatedly denies threatening to attack neighboring countries. President Vladimir Putin said Moscow seeks assurances that NATO will not move its military infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders.