Reinforcement of NATO: what are the missions of the French soldiers sent to Romania?

Tension is still growing in Ukraine. The strategic port of Mariupol, in eastern Ukraine, is “under blockade” and undergoing “ruthless attacks” by Russian forces, the mayor of the city said on Saturday, on the tenth day of the invasion and then that the Russians and Ukrainians are preparing for a third round of negotiations over the weekend. For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday regretted NATO’s decision not to establish a no-fly zone in Ukraine, in the midst of the Russian invasion: “All these people who will die from today will also die because of you” he launched, in a video.

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The members of the Alliance have indeed refused Friday to impose a “no fly zone” above Ukraine, for fear of an escalation with Moscow. At the same time, the military forces of NATO converged on Romania where the large air base of Constantza was installed, on the shores of the Black Sea, just opposite the fighting in Odessa.

In fact, this deployment is very important for Bucharest, which shares 650 km of border with Ukraine. NATO troops were reinforced a month ago in Romania. The American army doubled its manpower there, rising to 2,000 men stationed there. The first French reinforcements, 250 Alpine hunters, arrived at the end of February, only a few days after the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, with armored vehicles and combat vehicles.

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The French force, which will take the lead in operations as a Framework Nation, continues to deploy: there will be 500 of them on Sunday March 6 when the French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly lands at the NATO air base to greet them. The Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier is also approaching this area while remaining in the Mediterranean to allow French fighters to carry out reconnaissance and deterrence missions.

“We want to send a dissuasive message vis-à-vis Russia so that Russia does not take another step and that Russia does not take it into its head to cross this limit which is the Atlantic Alliance; we are countries that are bound by a pact of solidarity and Russia knows that if one of us were attacked, then the whole Alliance would retaliate”, had warned Thursday the Minister of the Armies Florence Parly at the microphone of franceinfo. “We have deployed them because we owe assistance and solidarity to countries which belong to the European Union, which belong to the Atlantic Alliance and which are closest to this conflict”she added.

Germans, Italians, Poles, Dutch and Belgians have also reinforced their numbers. All are initially gathered on this large NATO base of Constantza, in the south-east of Romania, two hours by road from the Ukrainian conflict zone. Romania is on the front line and French forces will have an increasing role to play here, the Romanian Minister of Defense confirmed on Friday.

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