Stoltenberg: NATO must strengthen its presence in the Black Sea region

NATO should continue to strengthen its positions in the Black Sea region in light of the "growing Russian military presence in the annexed Crimea", said by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference in Brussels, ahead of the NATO Foreign Ministers' Council, which will be held on December 1-2 over video link.

"We see that Russia is increasing its military presence (in the Black Sea region), and especially in Crimea. This is the reason why we should continue to increase our presence in the region," Stoltenberg said.

"The Black Sea region is of strategic importance to NATO and all its allies... We work closely with our valued partners Georgia and Ukraine. In this regard, NATO maintains a significant presence in the Black Sea region and will continue to work even more closely with Ukraine and Georgia," he said.

The Secretary-General pointed out, in particular, to a multinational brigade based in the Romanian city of Craiova which is part of NATO's special advanced presence on NATO's south-eastern borders.

"We see that Russia continues to violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty of these two countries, in particular through the illegal annexation of Crimea and the presence of Russian troops in parts of Georgia," Stoltenberg said.

"Russia is modernizing its nuclear capability and creating new missiles. It places more forces in the regions next door to us - from the far North to Syria and Libya. We also see an increased Russian presence amid the crises in Belarus and Nagorno-Karabakh," the head of the alliance added.

He also stressed that the increase of NATO's presence in the Black Sea region will be discussed on December 2 with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba and Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani.

In addition, the Council will focus on arms control, in particular the situation around the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty (New START), which expires in February 2021.

  Stoltenberg, NATO, Black Sea, Russia