Macron warns NATO ‘ready’ to deploy troops to Romania as Russia tensions explode

Boris Johnson issues warning to Russia about invading Ukraine

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The move to shore up NATO’s eastern flank comes after Macron created “misunderstandings” when he recently called for the EU to establish a security pact with Russia. NATO had already increased its presence in the area after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The move represents a further escalation of tension as NATO countries prepare their defenses in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Macron said: “We have sent troops to ensure the security of our European partners in NATO missions, to our friends in the Baltic area, and we will continue to do so.

“We have shown our readiness to move forward, within NATO, to engage in new missions and to take responsibility for enhanced advanced presence missions, especially in Romania.

“Solidarity with our European friends in NATO.”

The decision was welcomed by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who tweeted that “the Romania-France strategic partnership will be strengthened on the eastern flank, in the Black Sea region.”

Pierre Morcos, fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington analysed the situation further, saying: “France announced this week its readiness to lead a possible NATO forward presence in Romania if decided by allies, a strong show of solidarity praised by Bucarest which is also at the forefront of current tensions.”

US President Joe Biden similarly announced last week that Washington would “indeed increase the troop presence in Poland, Romania and other countries if Russia were to act, because we have an Article 5 obligation to defend those countries as they are members of NATO.”

Romania has been a NATO member since 2004 and already has about 1,000 US troops on its territory, and said it was ready to welcome more US troops.

Tensions are reaching boiling point in Eastern Europe as Russia has amassed an estimated 130,000 troops along the Ukrainian border.

Boris Johnson today warned Russian leader Vladimir Putin that invading Ukraine would lead to a “painful, violent and bloody business”.

He added: “The intelligence is very clear that there are 60 Russian battle groups on the borders of Ukraine, the plan for a lightning war that could take out Kyiv is one that everybody can see.

“We need to make it very clear to the Kremlin, to Russia, that that would be a disastrous step.”

His words echoed those of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who said: ““Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy.

“As the UK and our partners have said repeatedly, any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake with severe costs.”

Euractiv France reported that experts predict Macron’s move to position troops in Romania may be in order to clear up his confusing message that the EU should sign a pact with Russia.

In a speech to the European parliament, Macron called for EU states to “conduct their own dialogue” with Russia.

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For some experts, reported Euractiv France, this represented a departure from the plea of US secretary of state Antony Blinken for “unity.”

Mr Blinken said on a visit to Kyiv: “I think one of Moscow’s long-standing goals has been to try to sow divisions between and within our countries and quite simply, we cannot and will not let them do that.”

Several other Western countries have begun to supply weapons to Ukraine as tensions escalate.

The UK has supplied 30 elite troops and 2,000 anti-tank weapons to the country, while a statement from the Baltic states revealed that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania would send other weapons to bolster Ukrainian forces.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs have accused the West of “escalating tensions around Ukraine.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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