BUCHAREST (Reuters) – German Air Force Eurofighters arrived at a military air base in eastern Romania on Thursday as part of a deployment to NATO’s eastern flanks amid a Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s border, the defence ministry said.
The three Eurofighters and roughly 60 soldiers will join Italian and Romanian forces for enhanced air policing missions over the next three weeks. German air forces ran similar missions alongside British air forces in Romania in 2021.
They will be stationed at the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base on the Black Sea where a Stryker squadron of 1,000 U.S. service members was relocated earlier this month from Vilseck, Germany. The squadron added to the 900 soldiers Washington currently has rotating in Romania, which borders Ukraine to the north.
Earlier this week NATO told its military commanders to draw up plans for new battlegroups in central and southeastern Europe, as it accused Russia of sending more troops to areas near Ukraine instead of withdrawing its forces.
Diplomats said four new units comprising a total of around 4,000 troops could be based in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia in what would be the biggest shift in NATO’s military posture since it moved troops to the Baltics and Poland following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
A German army convoy of 130 soldiers and 60 vehicles reached the Baltic state of Lithuania on Thursday, bringing almost half of planned reinforcements for the country’s German-led NATO battlegroup.
On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden said there was now every indication Russia was planning to invade into Ukraine.
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Mark Heinrich)