This week, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis called for a steeper response from NATO in the Eastern European region spanning from the Baltic to the Black Sea. This region of Eastern Europe includes Romania, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, and more. The call for increased allied presence on the eastern bloc came shortly after the summit of the Bucharest Nine (B9) summit, per Reuters. According to U.S. News, The Bucharest Nine is a group of eastern bloc countries in NATO that met at the virtual summit, including United States President Joe Biden and Andrzej Duda, president of Poland. This virtual summit meeting aimed to coordinate security positions between the eastern countries and the United States before the entire NATO summit scheduled for June. The White House briefing room released a readout of President Biden’s participation in the B9 summit on May 10th. It discusses President Biden’s willingness to “strengthen Transatlantic relations” and support “enhancing NATO’s deterrence and defense posture.”
Iohannis was also quoted expressing similar thoughts on NATO’s deterrence and defence policy saying: “we all recently witnessed the worrying military build-up by Russia in our close neighborhood, in the Black Sea…this is why I have argued, including in discussions with President Biden, for an increase of allied military presence in Romania and the south of the Eastern flank.” Biden’s support for the increased presence in the region was met with equal enthusiasm from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia, all of whom were also present for the conference. In addition to the call for a steeper NATO response, President Biden also expressed an interest in cooperation with the B9 on several issues such as “global health security, climate change, energy security, and global economic recovery” (Reuters). Ukrainian forces were met with security problems in Kyiv after a Moscow-based separatist group became present in the Donbass region earlier this month. Although Moscow announced it would be removing its military presence from the Donbass region, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinkin noted that Russia had left large amounts of equipment and soldiers behind. Of the tens of thousands of soldiers sent by Russia, Moscow has only withdrawn around 3500 soldiers. While the troop withdrawal announcement came in mid-April, it also precedes a summit between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which is supposedly taking place next month. Amidst the increasingly hostile presence of Russian-backed military groups on the eastern border, Ukraine has actively tried to join NATO’s military alliance.
According to the NATO website, allied forces in the southeastern region of the bloc have been fully functional since July 2017. The site also touches on the response to Russia’s actions in 2018 in the Black Sea, stating, “NATO decided to increase its presence in the region to further improve situational awareness.” The act of deterrence is often used in international politics, usually surrounding some bargain or deal. NATO is an example of an organization that instils fear of the consequences when a NATO ally is attacked. The issue on the eastern border of Ukraine has been ongoing for several weeks, and although a fraction of the troops has been pulled by Russia, the border remains under distress. Iohannis’ request to have an increased military presence from a worldwide power such as NATO is completely warranted. The hope with increasing a neutral military presence is that it will discourage Moscow-backed separatists from engaging with Ukrainian forces. If Ukraine was granted the opportunity to become a member of NATO, then the call for military support would be met with not only enthusiasm but the global response would be much more immediate. Overall, world leaders and NATO member states need to respond to President Iohannis’ call for military support to the eastern Ukrainian borders.
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