Romania receives Patriot missiles from US, boost defencesEuropost
The Romanian army received its first shipment of US Raytheon Patriot surface-to-air missiles on Thursday, part of an effort to bolster its defences. “Romania has just become a safer nation by hosting these Patriot missiles on its territory,” PM Ludovic Orban said cited by Reuters at the receiving ceremony at a firing range on the Black Sea shore.
The missiles will form part of an integrated air defence system comprising newly acquired F-16 fighter jets as Romania brings its obsolete military equipment up to NATO standards and phases out outdated communist-era MiGs. Worth about $4bn, the system is an important element of the EU and NATO member’s overhaul programme as it seeks to deter any threat from Russia.
Russia had repeatedly said Moscow views US missiles in eastern Europe as a great danger, and Moscow would be forced to respond by enhancing its own missile strike capability. The US has demanded that NATO members gradually boost their defence budgets to 2% of GDP and Romania, a close US ally, was among first in Europe to do so.
Romania also hosts a US ballistic missile defence station and has contributed combat troops to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US military, which says the shield is needed to protect NATO states from any missile attacks from Iran and not to threaten Russia, switched on the $800 million Romanian part of the shield in 2016.