Romania: Patriot missiles not aimed at increasing tensions with Russia
This picture taken on March 21, 2015 shows US troops from the 5th Battalion of the 7th Air Defense Regiment emplace a launching station of the Patriot air and missile defense system at a test range in Sochaczew, Poland. (Photos by AFP)
Islam Times - Romania has stressed that its possible purchasing of seven US-built Patriot missile defense systems is aimed at bolstering the country’s defense and not antagonizing Russia.
"We are not getting ready to attack anyone. We are preparing ... for our army to benefit from modern, efficient features. They are meant to defend us, to guarantee the security of Romanians," Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said on Saturday.
Earlier in the month, the US State Department announced that it has approved the possible sale of defense systems worth $3.9 billion to the NATO country Romania.
Romania is yet to formally announce the purchase of the missile defenses systems, whose main contractors would be Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp.
Romania has been part of NATO since 2004, and is committed to increase its defense spending to two percent of its gross domestic product this year.
NATO drills kick off in Romania
Meanwhile, NATO and partner countries have begun war games in Romania being overseen by high ranking NATO officials and Iohannis.
Soldiers from Romania, the US, Ukraine, Armenia and Croatia are taking part in the exercises, in which US and Romanian military aircraft are also present.
The United States has deployed contingents of troops since Russia's reunification with Crimea following a referendum in March 2014. The US deployments have been supplemented by four NATO battle groups of more than 1,000 soldiers.
Western countries have moved to step up their military presence in Eastern Europe to deter what they call the Russian “aggression.”
Moscow is wary of NATO’s military build-up near its borders. In response, Russia has beefed up its southwestern military capacity, deploying nuclear-capable missiles to its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad bordering Poland and Lithuania.
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