Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s Remarks at Romanian Ministry of Defense Post-Bilat Joint Press Event

As President Biden affirmed at the Bucharest Nine Summit in May, this Administration is committed to strengthening our Euro-Atlantic bonds and to ensuring a secure Eastern Flank.

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I also wanted to be here to honor the Romanian service members who served side by side with us in Afghanistan over the past 20 years… including the 27 Romanian troops who died in Afghanistan.

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Now, as most of you know, Romania is one of a handful of NATO Allies that hosts a significant number of U.S. rotational forces….

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Later today, I’ll get a chance to visit our forces at MK [Mihail Kogălniceanu] Air Base… and see first-hand the outstanding relationship between our two militaries.

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Now, this year marks a decade since we signed the Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration and the Ballistic Missile-Defense Agreement.

It also marks five years since we established Europe’s first and only operational Aegis Ashore site in Romania.

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Now, we also spent some time today discussing the importance of deepening cooperation among our Black Sea Allies and partners to deter and defend against Russian malign activities in the region.

As I mentioned during my visit to Kyiv, the United States will continue to provide assistance to enhance the maritime capabilities of Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Georgia in support of these efforts.

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I think our posture in the region continues to present a credible threat against Russia and it enables NATO forces to operate more effectively should deterrence fail. And I think this is borne out of our commitment to sustaining a rotational U.S. force presence. We continue to have about 1,000 rotational forces in Romania, including heavy infantry, rotary assets, enablers, and as you heard me mention earlier, Europe’s first and only operational Aegis Ashore.

Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptor missile of the sort the U.S. and NATO have stationed in Romania.

Regarding our force posture, I think you heard me say earlier that our posture in the region continues to present a credible deterrent against Russia and should deterrence fail, it allows us to be in a better position to operate more effectively….

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Security and stability of the Black Sea are in the U.S. national interest and are critical to the security of NATO’s Eastern Flank. It goes without saying that the region is vulnerable to Russian aggression, and we have seen evidence of that by ongoing actions in Eastern Ukraine, occupation of parts of Georgia, militarization of the Black Sea, and provocative actions in the air and at sea. I would go further and say that Russia’s destabilizing activities in and around the Black Sea reflect its ambitions to regain a dominant position in the region and to prevent the realization of a Europe that is whole, free and at peace.

Press conference with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III and Romanian Defense Minister Nicolae Ciucă, now being proposed for the prime ministership of Romania.