Belgian Minister of Defence visits Belgian troops in Romania

Belgian Minister of Defence visits Belgian troops in Romania
Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder (PS). © Belga

Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedoner visited the Constanta military base in Romania on Tuesday, where Belgian troops are currently on deployment as part of NATO’s mission to defend the alliance’s external borders.

On 28 February, NATO began enhancing its eastern flank by deploying additional troops to the Baltics and Central Europe.

NATO Response Force units, including 300 Belgian soldiers currently integrated with a French battalion, are on heightened alert in Romania in order to protect Europe against a potential enlargement of the war in Ukraine. The airbase is just 400 kilometres from Odessa, the Ukrainian city which is currently being threatened by advancing Russian troops.

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The soldiers are mostly members of the Belgian 1/3rd Lancers Battalion, a motorised infantry unit based in Marche-en-Famenne, in Wallonia. Having already received 15 months of NATO training, the troops are ready for deployment as part of NATO's rapid reaction force.

The Belgian forces will be stationed in Romania for a period of three to six months, depending on the situation in Europe and along the borders of Ukraine. They will also train alongside local units of the Romanian army.

The Minister of Defence said the visit was important because of the "exceptional" nature of the mission. "It is the first time that the NATO Rapid Reaction Force has been activated,” Dedonder explained, adding that war in Europe had not previously been expected.

According to the Minister, the battalion was in Romania for "protection and deterrence", admitting that so far "there is no indication that Russia would attack a NATO country."

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