President Klaus Iohannis of Romania has pleaded for a greater U.S. military presence “from the Baltic to the Black Sea” to protect the countries of Eastern Europe from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Iohannis told Biden, who attended the conference via video link, warned of increased Russian activity including in the Black Sea region where Romania is located.
“NATO must continue to strengthen its position of deterrence and defense, especially on the eastern flank, in a unified and coherent manner, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea,” he said.
The Bucharest Nine initiative was launched by Romania and Poland in 2015 to give the Eastern alliance members a way to discuss regional issues and forge a united voice in the larger NATO forum.
Monday’s meeting came ahead of a full NATO summit on June 14 in Brussels, where the alliance has its headquarters.
At the June summit, Biden and other leaders plan to discuss tense ties with Russia and China, the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the future of the 30-nation alliance.