Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s answer to a media question on a NATO Black Sea flotilla
Question: Some Russian media outlets have reported on a Ukraine-Romania initiative to establish a NATO flotilla in the Black Sea. What kind of idea is this?
Maria Zakharova: Bucharest initially put forth this idea and continues to promote it. While positioning itself as an “outpost” for deterring Russia on the “eastern NATO flank,” Romania has been doing its best for many years to push for an expansion of US and NATO presence in the Black Sea region and also continues to propose its own initiatives. These initiatives include the deployment of a joint permanent NATO naval force in the Black Sea. Romanian officials believe this would be a natural supplement to NATO’s ground forces in the region.
Bucharest proposes that this “flotilla” mostly include warships from regional NATO countries (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey). Plus, this task force would be reinforced by warships from other NATO countries, primarily the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and France on a rotating basis. They’ve also invited NATO’s Black Sea “partners,” Ukraine and Georgia, to join this force. During his recent visit to Bucharest, Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko voiced Kiev’s willingness to take part in this.
So far, NATO leaders have not commented on this dubious proposal. According to media reports, Romania is working to include the subject on the agenda of the upcoming NATO summit, scheduled for July in Warsaw.
It’s obvious that discussions on this issue, not to mention practical decisions, if any, would not help maintain the Black Sea as a region of peace and good-neighbourliness, as advocated by the authorities in Bucharest. Apart from siting elements of the missile defence system in Deveselu, as well as other components of the US and NATO military infrastructure in Romania and other countries, this is an effort to expand regional military activity in direct proximity to Russia’s borders. This seriously undermines security and stability on this part of the continent and forces Russia to respond to maintain its own security.