The Japan Times Online
July 27, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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A storm is gathering in and around the Black Sea as Russia faces a mounting challenge from the United States, which is beefing up its military presence in former Soviet satellite countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
One look at a map of the region shows the critical geopolitical importance of the Black Sea, as its southern coast connects to the Middle East via Turkey and its northern coast adjoins Ukraine, which is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and which houses 80 percent of the pipelines supplying natural gas from Russia to Western Europe.

In Romania, the U.S. has spent $50 million since last year to expand bases to accommodate 1,700 troops. The principal facility is the Mikhail Kogalniceanu Air Base located in Constanta, facing the Black Sea. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is said to maintain a secret detention facility at the base.

There is nothing new about the U.S. maintaining military bases in Romania, which dates back to the beginning of the Iraq war. What is important is Washington’s announcement of its intention to use them indefinitely. In May, a marine corps unit centered around a tank battalion was dispatched to the Mikhail Kogalniceanu base for the first time.

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