The US State Department has approved a $3.9 billion Patriot missile sale to Romania, a deal which is likely to anger neighboring Russia.
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement on Tuesday that the sale will boost the defensive capabilities of the Romanian military
“The proposed sale of the Patriot system will support Romania’s needs for its own self-defense and support NATO defense goals,” the agency said.
“Romania will use the Patriot missile system to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats. The proposed sale will increase the defensive capabilities of the Romanian military to guard against aggression and shield the NATO allies who often train and operate within Romania’s borders. Romania should have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces,” it added.
The US Congress now has 30 days to object to the deal, but it is not expected to do so as Romania is an important NATO ally of the United States
. Romania has been a NATO member since 2004 and has contributed troops to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The agreement comes as the US military deployed a Patriot battery in Lithuania as part of multinational NATO exercises in the country.
This file photo shows US troops placing a launching station of the Patriot air and missile system at a test range in Sochaczew, Poland, on March 21, 2015. (Photo by AFP)
Russia has expressed concerns over Romania’s hosting of a US missile shield, calling it a threat to Russian security.
Moscow has previously criticized Washington for deploying ballistic missile systems in Romania, saying the deployment would violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INFT) signed between the US and the Soviet Union in late 1980s.
The US began operating its land-based missile system in Romania in 2016. In April this year, American and Romanian military forces conducted a joint military exercise within the framework of the NATO.
Washington has defended the deployment as a bid to protect itself and Europe from what it calls Russia’s “threats.”
The US military buildup in Eastern Europe, however, is perceived as an effort to curb Russia’s influence.