Posts Tagged ‘Romania’

US Military Gear Reaches Poland Ahead of Russian War Games

September 13, 2017

WARSAW, Poland — A shipment of U.S. military equipment has been unloaded at a Baltic Sea port in Poland as Russia prepares to conduct war games across the border in Belarus.

American troops were deployed to bases across Poland this year on a rotating basis as reassurance amid Russia’s increased military activity.

Over 1,000 pieces of U.S. equipment, including Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and self-propelled howitzers, arrived at the port of Gdansk on Wednesday.

Thousands of Russian and Belarusian troops are set to participate in the weeklong Zapad-2017 military exercises starting Thursday in Belarus.

Leaders in Poland, the Baltic states, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria are concerned Russia might not pull back all of its soldiers after the drills.



Russian Minister Criticizes Moldova’s Call for Russian Troops To Go Back To Russia

September 2, 2017

BUCHAREST, Romania — Russia’s foreign minister has criticized a move by Moldova to call for the removal of Russian troops from a pro-Russia separatist region at an upcoming U.N. meeting.

Moldova’s Radio Chisinau on Saturday cited Sergey Lavrov as saying the move was “inspired from abroad,” an apparent reference to the U.S. and the European Union. Lavrov said it could destabilize the region.

Russia has 1,000 troops and 500 peacekeepers stationed in Trans-Dniester, which broke away from Moldova in 1990, fearing reunification with neighboring Romania. About 1,500 people died in a 1992 civil war there.

Moldova’s ambassador to the U.N., Victor Moraru, recently asked the U.N. to discuss Russian troop withdrawal from Trans-Dniester on the sidelines of the Sept. 12 General Assembly in New York, something Russia opposes.

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Moldova’s Ambassador to the U.N. Victor Moraru presents his credentials to the Secretary General

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Moldova is snuggled between Ukraine and Romania — and Russia looks on….

Emmanuel Macron triggers ‘irreversible’ power battle that is splitting the EU — “The future of Europe will not be decided by the president of France.”

August 27, 2017
EMMANUEL Macron’s recent row with Poland over EU directives has divided the bloc and portrayed France as the bully of Brussels, according to a global political risk analyst.

PUBLISHED: 08:01, Sun, Aug 27, 2017 | UPDATED: 08:18, Sun, Aug 27, 2017

Political risk analyst: Macron has support for EU labour reform

Famke Krumbmuller, a German risk analyst, warned the French President was playing with fire by stoking up tensions with Eastern European states.Emmanuel Macron has become embroiled in a bitter war of words with Poland and Hungary, and threatened to dissolve the EU if he does not get his way.

Mr Macron wants to reform EU labour laws and reduce the amount of time posted workers can work abroad from three years to one.

However, Mrs Krumbmuller told France24 this blantant “screw you” to Poland has triggered a tense power play for control in Brussels.

Famke Krumbmullerfrance24

Famke Krumbmuller, a German risk analyst, warned that the French President was playing with fire


Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo hit back, calling the French leader’s criticism “arrogant”

She said: “Macron seems to have convinced Romania and Bulgaria to his side.”France is going against Poland, Hungary and even the European Commission which wants the posted worker term time to be two years.”

“The support he has might be enough to overcome the blocking minority in the EU council. This is end of the European consensus politics.”

The row has centred on rules governing posted workers – the cheap labour from eastern countries sent to more prosperous EU nations.

Poland – the member that benefits most from the law – wants to keep the current rules intact.

Mr Macron said: “Poland has decided to isolate itself from Europe and its refusal to revise this directive doesn’t change my confidence in getting a positive outcome.

“The Polish prime minister will have difficulty explaining why it’s good to pay the Poles badly.”

He added Poland “cannot be the country that gives Europe its direction.”

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo hit back, calling the French leader’s criticism “arrogant”.

She also accused France of trying to “take apart one of the pillars of the EU” — the free movement of workers among the bloc’s 28 nations.

Emmanuel MacronGETTY

Emmanuel Macron has become embroiled in a bitter war of words with Poland

France and GermanyGETTY

France and Germany risked appearing as bullies if they forced through their plans

Poland has decided to isolate itself from Europe

Emmanuel Macron

She added: “The future of Europe will not be decided by the president of France, or by any other individual leader, but jointly, by all the member states.”

However, Mr Macron warned refusal to obey his demands would mean the “dismantling of the EU”.Mers Krumbmuller said the row opened up an irreversible wound across the block that divided the eastern and western EU states.

She warned France and Germany risked appearing as bullies if they forced through their plans, and predicted a widespread rebellion and dissolution of the bloc if Mr Macron’s plans go ahead.

Macron meets resistance to labor reforms in eastern Europe

August 26, 2017

Emmanuel Macron is on a campaign to curtail the export of cheap labor to western Europe. But as the French president takes his tour east, he is running into a less receptive audience.

Emmanuel Macron in Austria (Reuters/H-P.Bader)

It looked like it would be a walk in the park for French President Emmanuel Macron after his early success in Salzburg. Macron swiftly came to an agreement with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern on Wednesday to work together against the export of foreign workers to be used as “cheap labor” in the western EU. He also won support from Slovakia and the Czech Republic during the four-way meeting in the Alpine city.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, however, cautiously pointed out that Hungary, and above all Poland, which sends particularly large numbers of workers to other EU countries, would have to sign onto any European agreement. Fico understood that Poland would continue to refuse a deal which, according to Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, is against the interests of its own workers.

Eastern Europe works differently

Szydlo reiterated Poland’s opposition in a press conference on Thursday, as Macron was in Bucharest to meet with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. Speaking to reporters in Warsaw, Szydlo stressed Poland would not budge in its resistance to the labor reforms, kicking off a storm unlikely to be dealt with again until the next EU social summit in October.

Emmanuel Macron in Bucharest (picture-alliance/AP Photo/V. Ghirda)Macron found less support for his proposed labor reforms in Romania

In Bucharest, and the next day in the Bulgarian city of Varna, support for Macron’s proposals suddenly looked bleak. Both Iohannis and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev admitted to their French counterpart that they wanted to intensify their efforts to eliminate cheap labor exports within the EU. But they cited the rights of workers and companies’ needs to compete on the European free market as stumbling blocks.

Analysis: Macron willing to compromise …

Macron is well aware of the explosive nature of this issue. In order to reform the European labor market, an effort also supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he must be ready to compromise. That is why Macron this week offered his Romanian and Bulgarian counterparts support in their countries’ respective negotiations to join the Schengen visa zone.

But Macron must also recognize that his view of the “European spirit” is seen as one-sided. His attempts to blame cheap foreign labor for France’s unemployment problems is too transparent an attempt to divert attention from the longstanding structural problems in his country. In addition, Macron seems to be deliberately forgetting that French retail chains, such as Carrefour and Auchan, have pushed the local and much weaker companies almost completely out of the market in eastern Europe. These are the rules of the free European Economic Area, from which French companies also fully benefit. To “reform” the labor market in the EU by means of protectionist measures would be the worst possible signal to save the “European spirit.”

Construction workers (picture-alliance/Sven Simon)Eastern European construction workers are often poorly paid in Western EU countries

…but no consensus in sight

It is understandable that Macron was left frustrated by Poland’s resistance to labor reforms while in Varna. He is certainly right when he says that Poland is not the country that “leads the way in Europe.”

But France alone will not be able to dictate the direction the EU is headed. The bloc must come together to find ways to significantly reduce the social and economic disparities within the region. The French president’s tour of central and eastern Europe will surely inject life into the stalled discussions. But Macron’s desire to have labor reform in the bag by the end of the year remains far from finished.

Migrant boats in Black Sea spark fears of new route

August 21, 2017


© AFP/File | A boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region, officials said
BUCHAREST (AFP) – Romanian authorities said Monday that they had caught a fishing boat with 68 asylum seekers off Romania’s coast, the second such incident in a week, raising fears that a new migrant route to Europe is opening up.

The boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania’s southeastern Constanta region, officials said.

“They were accompanied by two Turkish traffickers,” Ionela Pasat, a spokeswoman for the Constanta coastguard, told AFP.

The group was brought to the port of Mangalia for medical examinations on Monday before being handed over to the immigration authorities, she said.

On August 13, coastguards discovered a boat with 69 Iraqi migrants in Romanian waters. One Bulgarian and one Cypriot were taken into custody on suspicion of human trafficking.

EU member Romania, which is not part of the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone, has largely been spared the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War II.

But Bucharest worries that the Black Sea could become an alternative route to the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.

More than 111,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea so far this year, most of them arriving in Italy from Libya, according to the most recent figures.

Over 2,300 have died attempting the crossing.

This month, NGO rescue ships were banned from patrolling waters off Libya where hundreds of thousands of people have been rescued in recent years and brought to Italy.

Hungary’s Leader: Border Fences Will Stop Muslim Migration — Despises EU-Soros effort to increase Muslim migration — Hungary will remain a place where “Western European Christians will always be able to find security.”

July 22, 2017

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s anti-migration prime minister says European Union leaders and Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros are seeking a “new, mixed, Muslimized Europe.”

Speaking Saturday at a cultural festival in Romania, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that Hungary’s border fences, supported by other Central European countries, are the barriers to the EU-Soros effort to increase Muslim migration.

Orban also said that while Hungary opposed taking in migrants “who could change the country’s cultural identity,” he said that under his leadership Hungary would remain a place where “Western European Christians will always be able to find security.”

Orban said Hungary’s low birth rate made the country an “endangered species,” and that the government was using taxes on multinational companies in Hungary to fund social policies and spur families to have more children.


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Dark blue: EU Schengen members
Light blue: Non-EU Schengen members
Yellow: Obliged to join Schengen eventually
Green: Opt-out from joining Schengen area

See also:

EU leaders to call for revision of Schengen Border Code (From 2015)

Baltics Need Anti-Aircraft Protection Against Russia, Lithuania Says

July 20, 2017


JULY 20, 2017, 10:21 A.M. E.D.T.

SIAULIAI AIR BASE, Lithuania — NATO should permanently deploy anti-aircraft weapons in the Baltics to deter Russia, Lithuania’s president said on Thursday as the United States put Patriot missiles on display after including them in an exercise in the region for the first time.

The permanent deployment of the advanced air defense system would be the next step in NATO’s new deterrent in the Baltics and Poland, which includes ground troops on rotation. Moscow says it is an unjustified military build-up on its borders.

“It would be really meaningful to have such weapons in the Baltic region. It would ensure a greater security for all our countries,” Lithuania’s president Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters on Thursday, standing in front of Patriot missiles deployed as part of a two-week NATO exercise.

“We would gladly host them,” she said of the missiles. “We are always ready”.

Since Russia annexed Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and began providing weapons and troops to separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, NATO has stepped up its deployments in the Baltics, eastern Poland and around the Black Sea.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which were once ruled from Moscow but are now part of NATO and the European Union, are set to triple their defense spending by 2018, compared to 2014, in order to deal with any threats from Russia.

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But with small militaries and limited budgets, the Baltics are reliant on help from allies for advanced capabilities, including long-range anti-aircraft weapons.

Earlier this month, the United States approved the possible sale of seven Patriot missile defense systems worth $3.9 billion to Romania.

Poland said it signed memorandum with the United States to purchase Patriot missiles, having indicated earlier in the year it expects to buy eight for $7.6 billion.

Describing air defenses as “the weakest link” in NATO’s eastern flank, Grybauskaite called on the alliance to tackle the issue by a NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels in July 2018.

However, she also left open the possibility of stationing the missile batteries out of the Baltics, as long as they were focused on protecting the region.

“As the Patriots have a very long range, it does not really matter where they are deployed, whether that is in the Baltics or in Poland, or somewhere else. What is important is the speed of response to any air threat,” she said.

The U.S. battery did not fire a shot in Lithuania during the exercises, which also involved troops from Britain, Poland and Latvia, a U.S. commander said.

But Baltic officials said the deployment demonstrates the willingness of United States to bring such advanced weaponry to the region, despite Moscow’s protests.

Russia says the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is increasing the risk of conflict in Europe, citing the alliance’s biggest modernization since the Cold War and a greater NATO troop presence in eastern Europe.

(Editing by Robin Emmott and Pritha Sarkar)

US set to approve $4bn Patriot missile sale to Romania

July 11, 2017


© AFP/File | “Romania will use the Patriot missile system to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats,” the US State Department said

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US State Department said Tuesday it is ready to approve the sale of Patriot air defense systems to Romania, a $3.9 billion deal likely to infuriate Russia.”The State Department has made a determination approving a possible foreign military sale to Romania for Patriot air defense systems, related support and equipment,” the State Department said.

Congress has 30 days to raise objections to the sale, though this is unlikely given that Romania is a NATO partner with important geo-strategic access to the Black Sea, where Russia-seized Crimea is located.

“Romania will use the Patriot missile system to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats,” the State Department said.

“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.”

The Patriot is a mobile air-defense system made by Raytheon and designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, low-flying cruise missiles and aircraft.

The possible sale comes as the US military temporarily deployed a Patriot battery in Lithuania as part of multinational NATO exercises in the Baltic country.

Moscow last year deployed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles into its Kaliningrad exclave, which borders Lithuania and Poland, rattling nearby NATO members.

NATO says non-US 2017 defence spending to rise 4.3%

June 28, 2017


© AFP/File | The United States accounts for about 70 percent of combined NATO defence spending and Washington has pushed the allies for years to do more to ease the burden

BRUSSELS (AFP) – European NATO allies and Canada will increase defence spending this year by 4.3 percent, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday, amid pressure from President Donald Trump to spend more.

“In 2017 we foresee an even greater annual real increase of 4.3 percent. That is three consecutive years of accelerating defence spending,” Stoltenberg told reporters on the eve of a defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

“So we are really shifting gears, the trend is up and we intend to keep it up,” he added.

Trump has repeatedly berated the allies for not doing more to share the defence burden and bluntly told them again at a leaders’ summit in Brussels last month that they could not count on Washington coming to their defence if they did not do their bit.

Trump’s comments caused consternation among many, notably Germany, but Stoltenberg said the president’s demands were understandable given the challenges the US-led alliance now faces.

“I welcome the strong focus of Trump on spending and defence burden sharing,” he said.

“At the same time, I also underline that allies should invest more in defence not to please the United States but because it is in their own interest and they have made the commitment.”

Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, recalled that the 28 allies had pledged at a 2014 summit in Wales to increase defence spending to the equivalent of two percent of annual economic output within a decade.

That move, pushed by then president Barack Obama in response to the Ukraine crisis and a more aggressive Russia, had halted and reversed years of defence cuts, Stoltenberg said.

So far only five allies have met that benchmark — the US, Greece, Britain, Estonia and Poland. But Stoltenberg said Romania was set to join them this year, and Latvia and Lithuania in 2018.

In 2015, the allies turned the corner with an increase of 1.8 percent overall, pushed that to 3.3 percent in 2016 and now looked to go further again this year, he said.

In all, the three years represented an overall increase of $46 billion dollars, boosting NATO’s ability to face the Russian challenge in Europe and new threats such as Islamic State-inspired jihadi terrorism across the Middle East and North Africa.

The United States accounts for about 70 percent of combined NATO defence spending and Washington has pushed the allies for years to do more to ease the burden.

Trump, however, has pressed hardest of all, putting the allies on the back foot by dubbing NATO “obsolete” and questioning the wisdom of the US security commitment if they failed to live up to their side of the bargain.


Businesses brace for Monday as ransomware threat lingers

May 14, 2017

A projection of cyber code on a hooded man is pictured in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration
By Jeremy Wagstaff and Jim Finkle | SINGAPORE/TORONTO

Technical staff scrambled on Sunday to patch computers and restore infected ones, amid fears that the ransomware worm that stopped car factories, hospitals, shops and schools could wreak fresh havoc on Monday when employees log back on.

The spread of the virus dubbed WannaCry – “ransomware” which locked up more than 100,000 computers – had slowed, cybersecurity experts said, but they warned that the respite may be brief.

New versions of the worm were expected, and the extent of the damage from Friday’s attack was still unclear.


A worker is seen completing final checks on the production line at Nissan car plant in Sunderland, northern England, June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis/File photo

Marin Ivezic, cybersecurity partner at PwC, said that some clients had been “working around the clock since the story broke” to restore systems and install software updates, or patches, or restore systems from backups.

Microsoft released patches last month and on Friday to fix a vulnerability that allowed the worm to spread across networks, a rare and powerful feature that caused infections to surge on Friday.

Code for exploiting that bug, which is known as “Eternal Blue,” was released on the internet in March by a hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers.

The group claimed it was stolen from a repository of National Security Agency hacking tools. The agency has not responded to requests for comment.

Hong Kong-based Ivezic said that the ransomware was forcing some more “mature” clients affected by the worm to abandon their usual cautious testing of patches “to do unscheduled downtime and urgent patching which is causing some inconvenience.”

He declined to identify which clients had been affected.


Monday was expected to be a busy day, especially in Asia which may not have seen the worst of the impact yet, as companies and organisations turned on their computers.

“Expect to hear a lot more about this tomorrow morning when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing emails” or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate, said Christian Karam, a Singapore-based security researcher.

Targets both large and small have been hit.

Renault on Saturday said it had halted manufacturing at plants in Sandouville, France, and Romania to prevent the spread of ransomware in its systems.

Among the other victims is a Nissan manufacturing plant in Sunderland, northeast England.

Hundreds of hospitals and clinics in the British National Health Service were infected on Friday, forcing them to send patients to other facilities.

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said some electronic signs at stations announcing arrivals and departures were infected.

In Asia, some hospitals, schools, universities and other institutions were affected. International shipper FedEx Corp said some of its Windows computers were also breached.

Telecommunications company Telefonica was among the targets in Spain. Portugal Telecom and Telefonica Argentina both said they were also targeted.

A Jakarta hospital said on Sunday that the cyber virus had infected 400 computers, disrupting the registration of patients and finding records. The hospital said it expected big queues on Monday when about 500 people were due to register.

In Singapore, a company that supplies digital signage, MediaOnline, was rushing to fix its systems after a technician’s error had led to 12 kiosks being infected in two of the island’s malls. Director Dennis So said the systems were not connected to the malls’ or tenants’ networks.

Symantec, a cybersecurity company, predicted infections so far would cost tens of millions of dollars, mostly from cleaning corporate networks. Ransoms paid amount to tens of thousands of dollars, one analyst said, but he predicted they would rise.

Governments and private security firms on Saturday said that they expected hackers to tweak the malicious code used in Friday’s attack, restoring the ability to self-replicate.

“This particular attack was relatively easy to shut down,” said Bryce Boland, Asia Pacific chief technology officer for FireEye, a cybersecurity company.

But he said it would be straightforward for the existing attackers to launch new releases or for other ransomware authors to start copying the way the malware replicated.

The U.S. government on Saturday issued a technical alert with advice on how to protect against the attacks, asking victims to report attacks to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or Department of Homeland Security.

(Additional reporting by Additional reporting by Neil Jerome Morales, Masayuki Kitano, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Jose Rodriguez, Emmanuel Jarry, Orathai Sriring, Jemima Kelly, Alistair Smout, Andrea Shalal, Jack Stubbs, Antonella Cinelli, Dustin Volz, Kate Holton, Andy Bruce, Michael Holden, David Milliken, Tim Hepher, Luiza Ilie, Patricia Rua, Axel Bugge, Sabine Siebold and Eric Walsh, Engen Tham, Fransiska Nangoy, Soyoung Kim, Mai Nguyen; Editing by Mike Collett-White)