Europe: The army of Belgium will remain engaged in NATO’s eastern flank, as the military alliance is boosting its presence following Russia’s full-scale military operation in Ukraine.
The nation will aid NATO by land, in the air, as well as at sea by dispatching an engineering unit to Romania and sending a group of elite infantry to Lithuania. At the same time, F-16s will conduct deterrence missions in the Baltic region by the end of 2022, as per the sources.
The step that has taken place will come after NATO called on the European Union to step up its engagement. “The cost we pay as the EU, as NATO, is the cost we can measure in currency, in money,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shared the information.
“The cost they pay is measured in lives lost on a daily basis. So, we should stop complaining as well as step up and provide support, full stop.”
At the beginning of July month, the government of Belgium agreed to send an engineering dispatch that would work on more housing blocks for NATO stationed in Cincu (centre of Romania) together with French as well as Dutch soldiers. This group consists of 64 people whose mission ends on 30 October.
Along with this, the Defence of Belgium will secure forces of 150 soldiers to a multinational “battle group” under German command in Lithuania as a part of NATO’s enhanced presence in the Baltics.
On Tuesday, Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder mentioned in the statement that the army “will most likely have to redeploy F-16s fighter bombs (to Estonia) in 2022 if the need arises.” She told La that there will “probably be a request for reinforcement from NATO in this area.”
The Navy looks set to permanently assign one of its tripartite minehunters (CMT) to one of NATO’s permanent flotillas in the Baltic Sea.
Since Russia started the full-scale military operation in Ukraine on 24 February, the European Union has passed six packages of sanctions against Russia, with the latest one including banning 90 percent of Russian oil imports.
NATO allies have increased their defence expenditures. Although Belgium does not meet the recommended 2 percent of GDP, it has beefed up its defence spending from below 1 percent in 2014 to 1.18 percent in 2022.
Furthermore, at its summit in Madrid, NATO announced it would increase its forces from 40,000 to 300,000.