Romania's government revealed Tuesday that it's made a formal request for the Biden administration to send more American troops to the eastern European country as well as beef up the US military presence in the Black Sea.
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu was in Washington on Monday to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The day following he said at an Atlantic Council event, "We have discussed about the importance of increasing the US presence in the region and in Romania."
According to a State Department readout of the meeting, the two also discussed "Russian aggression" in the region of "NATO's Eastern Flank", emphasizing the US-Romania Strategic Partnership which helps deter this.
Blinken in the statement "praised Romania as a stalwart NATO Ally and both agreed to collaborate on Black Sea security issues and Russian aggression against Ukraine and others on NATO’s Eastern Flank."
Currently a pair of US warships are deployed in the Black Sea, engaged in joint exercises with other NATO members, which Russia this week slammed as "provocative" and "destabilizing". "This is an almost constant attempt to test us, to check how ready we are, how much we have built the entire [defense] system off the Black Sea coast," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
Romania is among NATO members on the Black Sea that Washington counts on to keep a presence there, regularly hosting over 1,000 US troops, which are regularly rotated. It further hosts the US Aegis Ashore missile defense system, which the Pentagon classifies as providing ballistic missile coverage for southern Europe.
And as The Hill recounts, "In May, Romania bolstered their position by committing to purchase the Naval Strike Missile. This coastal defense system will certainly complicate Putin’s calculations in the Black Sea when operational by 2024." Romania is also host to MQ-9 Reaper drones, which recently arrived there along with Air Force technicians and operators.
For all of these reasons, and in particular the still simmering war in eastern Ukraine, Moscow is worried about continued US influence and encroachment around the Black Sea region, given not only the NATO presence that includes the countries of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey - but also nations like Ukraine and Georgia which the Biden administration has recently signaled have an "open door" to seek a path toward eventual full NATO membership.