Majority of Belgian soldiers deployed for NATO mission in Romania return home

Majority of Belgian soldiers deployed for NATO mission in Romania return home
Credit: Belga/Dirk Waem

A large part of the Belgian troops that were deployed in Romania as part of a NATO force will be returning home, announced the Belgian Defence Ministry.

They remained in Romania for four months and are now being relieved by Dutch soldiers. On Monday, a first flight already landed at Melsbroek military airport just outside of the Brussels-Capital Region, and another 60 soldiers will return on Friday.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, NATO countries decided to strengthen defence and deterrence along the alliance's eastern flank.

At an extraordinary summit on 24 March, the 30 Member States agreed to deploy four more so-called "battlegroups" along the eastern flank in Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, in addition to the four already in place in the Baltic States and Poland.

Belgium sent around 300 soldiers, most of them infantrymen of the 1/3 Battalion de Lanciers de Marche-en-Famenne, to the city of Constanța on the Black Sea in Romania. They were under France's command.

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The battalion trained with other partner nations, including troops from Romania, Poland, the United States and France to "strengthen their interoperability," according to the Defence Ministry. During their deployment, they also took part in international exercises in several Romanian camps, including Babadag, Smardan, Saint-Georges, Prislop and recently in Cincu.

Last week, three of the Belgian soldiers were sent back from Romania after "a disciplinary incident" about what Federal Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder called "internal tensions." Recently, King Philippe also visited the troops on the Black Sea, where he expressed "great anger" about the Russian aggression, during a short speech.

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