The U.S.-Romania strategic partnership has never been stronger or more relevant, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said as he met with Romanian Defense Minister Angel Tilvar at the Pentagon today.
Romania is steadfast NATO ally and one of the frontline states as Russia continues its unprovoked and brutal invasion of Ukraine.
Austin said Russia's invasion is a threat to security in the region. The attack on Ukraine is also an attack on "the core principles and shared values that make us all safer," he said.
In the wake of the Russian invasion, Romania stepped forward to host an increased presence of U.S. and NATO forces. "I saw the outstanding relationship between our two militaries firsthand when I visited, visited [Mihail Kogalniceanu] air base, and your generous support has bolstered deterrence along NATO's eastern flank," the secretary said. "We're also very grateful to the Romanian people for welcoming more than 3 million Ukrainian refugees and helping provide them with humanitarian assistance."
Tilvar said President Vladimir Putin's Russia is the most significant and direct threat to European, Euro-Atlantic and regional security. "President Putin had hoped to divide us, but he failed," the defense minister said. "Our response was firm."
And it remains firm. Romania has been part of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group since the beginning of that forum, and Tilvar complimented Austin on the way he has managed the group. The group "is a very efficient instrument of coordinating of all our efforts in supporting Ukraine," the minister said. "We commend the U.S. steadfast contribution to consolidating the security in our region and reinforcing the deterrence and defense posture for NATO's eastern flank, especially in the Black Sea region."
In addition to the Russian invasion, the two men discussed security in the Black Sea area and Romania's on-going defense modernization program. They also discussed the upcoming NATO summit that will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.