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Romania Mulls Hosting NATO Counterintelligence Unit

* The Western alliance asked Romania to host a counterintelligence unit to support its Black Sea area troops, as the country also awaits a British jet deployment and the largest NATO military exercise in its history.

NATO has asked to establish a counterintelligence centre in Bucharest to act against “reported threats” and to support alliance structures in the country against espionage and sabotage by hostile forces, balkaninsight.com reads.

The request comes amid intense preparations for deployment in Romania of the largest NATO exercise in the country’s history – the country will host 25,000 troops from 11 countries in June.

Romania’s parliament is set to approve the NATO request at its next plenary session, after it passed through the defence commissions of both chambers.

The unit, ACCI Bucharest Detachement- BuDET, is also intended to train and educate personnel from alliance countries in the region to investigate and counteract reported threats, according to the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers Europe.

NATO sent the official request to Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis at the end of March and he asked the president of the Senate to approve it.

Two NATO structures were set up in Romania based on decisions been at the alliance’s summits in Wales in 2014 and Poland 2016 to reassure members in Eastern Europe by taking a more aggressive posture against Russia.

NATO Force Integration Unit - NFIU and the Headquarters of the Multinational Division were set up after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

NATO will also begin basing fighter jets in Romania in May 2017, with Britain the first alliance member to provide aircraft and personnel for NATO’s Southern Air Policing mission.

Four RAF Typhoons will make up the first unit to begin air operations over the Black Sea, according to an announcement by British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon at the end of March.

The jets will fly from Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase, minutes away from Romania’s Black Sea harbour of Constanta. They will be stationed in Romania for four months, until September, when four Canadian CF-18 Hornets will replace them.

The NATO deployments in Romania, the alliance country closest to Crimea, come after Bucharest lobbied for increased security in the Black Sea region. 

Bucharest even advocated  a NATO Black Sea presence, but that has been met with opposition in Bulgaria.

In efforts to counter any potential threat from Russia, a US-led battalion of more than 1,100 soldiers was also deployed in Poland at the beginning of April. 

Romania sent 120 troops to join 900 US soldiers and around 150 British personnel in north-eastern Poland, where one of four multinational detachments across the Baltic region is located.