US Deploys F-16s To Romania As NATO Mulls Permanent Black Sea Battle Groups

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Feb 12, 2022 - 01:45 PM

"We are considering long-term adjustment in our posture and that includes establishing battle groups in the southeast of the alliance meaning Romania but also other countries around the Black Sea Region," NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg announced Friday.

He unveiled that the alliance is mulling a more permanent and bigger Black Sea region presence while at a press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. This means that even should the Russians not invade Ukraine, this current crisis will serve as NATO rationale to keep additional forces in Eastern Europe on a more permanent basis.

Stoltenberg described further in the Friday briefing: "We have the defense ministerial meeting next week and I expect that ministers will agree to further start the planning and to address the scale and the scope and the details about how to deploy a battle group. And then I expect that the final decision will be taken in the spring."

He described of NATO assets still being moved to the region, which has lately included some 3,000 additional US troops in Poland and Romania, that this "reinforce[ment of] our eastern flank" is necessary as a "defensive" step. Currently, Russia and Belarus are engaged in large joint war games that may involve up to 30,000 Russian troops. US officials have warned these are taking place a mere two hours from Ukraine's capital of Kiev.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon revealed Friday that it's sending more F-16 fighter jets from Germany to Romania, which was likely timed with Stoltenberg's visit to the country.

German media late this week also confirmed the recent additional NATO troops deployed to the Baltic allies of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. These countries have been instrumental in coordinating NATO weaponry, particularly from the UK and US, into Kiev. 

Days ago, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said revealed that preparations are underway dealing with scenarios of a Russian invasion, which he and others have claimed may come during the Winter Olympics.

US F-16 fighter, file via Jane's Defence

The United States has to "be prepared for the possibility of a contingency of a military action by Russia before the Olympics end, and we also have to be prepared for one after the Olympics end," he said during a Sunday media interview.