Romania to Boost Defense Spending
Romania's government plans to increase its defense budget over possible tensions on its eastern borders with Ukraine.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced plans for defense expenditures, which currently amount to 1.36% of GDP to reach 2% by 2017.
"We have to assume our role as guardian of one of Europe's and NATO's borders," BalkanInsight quoted Ponta as saying.
The new target set by Romania's cabinet is actually the average for the European Union.
Last few months have raised fears among politicians in Bucharest over a possible seizures of land by Russia in ex-Soviet states such as Moldova, which has a long border with Romania.
The prospects of land grab in Moldova's Russian enclave of Transnistria, which recently repeated a long-standing request to join Russia, is one of the motives for Romania to be among the staunchest supporters of EU-level sanctions against Moscow.
President Traian Basescu even urged NATO to reposition its resources in the east in end-March.
The deployment of 600 US marines to Romania was meanwhile announced by Basescu, which would put the number of Washington's marines stationed in the country to 1600.
NATO earlier decided to step up defences along its eastern flank as a preparation for possible Russian military action.
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