NATO "constantly assessing" need to strengthen presence in Black Sea region – Stoltenberg
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the Alliance is constantly assessing the need to further strengthen its presence in the Black Sea region.
The Black Sea is of strategic importance for NATO, and the Alliance has increased its presence in the Black Sea Region "on land, at sea and in the air, with enhanced air policing, with more naval presence and also with more presence with land forces," Stoltenberg said, speaking at a joint press-conference with Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban in Brussels Thursday, according to NATO press service.
"We are constantly assessing the need to further strengthen our presence," the secretary general underlined.
He recalled that three NATO member states – Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey – are littoral states to the Black Sea, while two "close partners", Ukraine and Georgia, are also Black Sea countries.
"We are also working closely with them, helping them, working with them, exercising with them," said Stoltenberg.
He added that NATO had increased "the readiness of our forces so we can easily, quickly reinforce." Stoltenberg also noted that more exercises were being conducted.
"And we have to remember that what triggered the adaptation, the strengthening of NATO's collective defense, which we have seen over the last years, was actually the illegal annexation of Crimea in the Black Sea," NATO secretary general stressed.