The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Romanian village set to become Nato’s biggest airbase in Europe

Six RAF Eurofighter Typhoons sit on the taxiway, engines roaring on two, as the ground staff hurry about, adding the finishing touches before take-off. In the distance, a cloud of dust rises in the summer haze over the construction site of the second runway, 3.5km (2 miles) long, beside the first. The hot northerly wind buffets the new hangars and the old. Mihai Kogalniceanu (MK) airbase takes its name from the village nearby, itself named after a 19th Century liberal politician. Now, it is the unlikely setting for what is turning into the biggest Nato base in Europe, bigger even than Ramstein in Germany. Russian President Vladimir Putin justified his war in Ukraine on the grounds that Nato is encroaching on Russia’s European flank. In response to his invasion, more pieces have moved forward on the Nato chessboard. The MK base will soon have a squadron of Romanian F-16s – recently bought from Norway – as well as MQ-9 Reaper drones, and a military city through which Nato army, air force and naval personnel from 32 countries will rotate. The latest arrivals are the Finns. Just 20km (12 miles) from the Black Sea coast, the base is 300km from Odesa, as the fighter flies, and 400km from Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea. This is RAF pilot Flt Lt Charlie Tagg’s third and final tour of duty here. “There’s a much bigger US presence here, a lot more infrastructure, accommodation, people and equipment.” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed both the areas he flies over, he says, and the strategic posture of the mission. In 2021, on his last tour, Nato fighter pilots flew far out over international waters in the Black Sea. But now they stick to the 12 nautical mile zone above Romanian and Bulgarian territorial waters, “to avoid misunderstandings, escalatory situations with the Russians”. “Previously we were here as a deterrence to any Russian aggression. Now it’s more as a reassurance to other Nato countries, such as Romania, that we are here, and we’re willing to defend.” BBC

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.