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Austin Praises U.S.-Romania Defense Ties

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III underscored the importance of the U.S.-Romania defense relationship today as he met with Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu and Defense Minister Angel Tilvar.

Two men shake hands at the top of some steps.
Pentagon Greeting
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu pose for a photo prior to a meeting at the Pentagon, Dec. 4, 2023.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza, DOD
VIRIN: 231204-D-PM193-1012

The two countries' strategic partnership has continued to strengthen amid Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Austin said, adding that Romania has been a key ally among the international coalition united in defense of its neighbor.  

"After 26 years, that partnership that has never been stronger or mattered more, especially in the wake of Russia's cruel and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine," the secretary said. 

"Romania has been a strong defender of Ukraine, including [making] robust donations of military aid and their vital participation in the Ukrainian defense contract," he said. "We're especially grateful to the Romanian people for welcoming more than 5 million Ukrainian refugees and providing critical humanitarian assistance." 

Austin also highlighted Romania's role in hosting the European F-16 Fighting Falcon training center, which he said will enhance critical capabilities among NATA allies. 

Military fighter jets fly in formation.
Flight Formation
Four U.S Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons aircraft from the 480th Fighter Squadron prepare to land at the 86th Air Base in Romania in support of NATO’s enhanced air-policing capabilities, Sept. 22, 2023.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Albert Morel
VIRIN: 230922-F-GY077-1168C

"We're also grateful to you for hosting an increased U.S. and allied presence," he said. "That's bolstering deterrence along NATO's eastern flank." 

Romania hosts more than 3,000 U.S. and allied forces.  

Additionally, he said Romania's leadership in the Black Sea has been crucial in the face of repeated Russian drone attacks against Ukrainian grain infrastructure.  

As the three  leaders met in the Pentagon, Austin previewed further discussions on Russia's war in Ukraine, security in the Black Sea and the broader region, and Romania's investments in its defense modernization.  

Two men sit across from each other and talk.
Pentagon Meeting
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu meet at the Pentagon, Dec. 4, 2023.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza
VIRIN: 231204-D-PM193-1016

Austin praised Romania for its continued commitment to spending 2% of its gross domestic product on defense and its investments in NATO interoperable military equipment, according to a summary of the discussion.  

The meeting comes on the heels of last month's meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, where Austin underscored the group's unwavering commitment to assisting Ukraine.  

Collectively, the more than 50 countries that comprise the group have committed more than $80 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion. Convening the latest meeting, Austin said the group will remain steadfast in its support. 

Ahead of today's meeting, Ciolacu pledged that Romania would continue to stand in support of its neighbor for "as long as it takes until Ukraine achieves victory." 

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