The United States and Romania are strong Allies and partners. The United States established diplomatic relations with Romania in 1880 following Romania’s independence, and 2022 marked the 142nd anniversary of this relationship. After the 1989 revolution ended communist rule, the United States and Romania have become increasingly close partners. As North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Allies, the United States and Romania have deepened relations over the past several decades by increasing security cooperation to address shared priorities including deterrence and defense, countering Russian influence, improving NATO’s defense capabilities, and advancing non-proliferation. Romania’s strategic position along the Black Sea, its border with Ukraine, and the close and enduring U.S.-Romanian security partnership make Romania a key Ally in southeastern Europe.
Romania’s Security & Defense Agreements
In 2011, the United States and Romania issued the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for the 21st Century. The two countries identified key areas for enhanced cooperation, focusing on our political-military relationship and law-enforcement cooperation, among other areas. Over its history, the partnership has yielded over 200 bilateral engagements with focus ranging from F-16 operations and maintenance to the construction of European weapons ranges and training sites in support of EUCOM Exercise Atlantic Resolve. Romania’s promotion of greater cooperation among its Black Sea neighbors in the domain of defense, among other areas, complements the U.S. goal of enhancing stability in this sensitive and important region.
In 2005, the U.S. and Romania signed a defense cooperation agreement establishing a framework for activities of U.S. military forces. This agreement enables U.S. military access of several bases in Romania and facilitates defense cooperation and joint military exercises. In addition, other agreements support education and training, arms procurement, and the exchange of classified information.
The Roadmap for Defense Cooperation for 2020-2030, signed in October 2020, outlines strategic priorities for the bilateral relationship and includes collaboration in the areas of cybersecurity, military modernization, and multi-domain operations in the Black Sea.
The United States and Romania also collaborate on international arms control. Romania is a Party to several export control regimes, including the Australia Group (to limit the spread of chemical and biological weapons); the Nuclear Suppliers Group (contributing to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons by setting guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports); and the Wassenaar Arrangement (which regulates transfers of conventional arms and dual-use technologies).
In addition to these compacts, the United States and Romania have several [5 MB], including an Agreement concerning measures for the protection of classified military information (1995), and an Acquisition and Cross-servicing agreement (2012). These foundational documents establish a framework for enhanced partnership and defense and security cooperation between the United States and Romania. Together with the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, they provide a comprehensive framework for U.S. forces operating in Romania.
Romania’s Partnership with NATO
Romania joined NATO in 2004 and has established itself as a steadfast Ally of both the United States and NATO. The country continues to improve its capabilities for NATO and multinational operations and has repeatedly deployed forces and assets in support of shared national security interests, including significant contributions of troops, equipment, and other assistance for Combined Operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Kosovo.
Romania plays an important role in NATO air defense. Mihail Kogălniceanu airport is a major transit hub near the Black Sea, and the United States is currently upgrading Campia Turzii to bolster U.S. and NATO air capabilities. In addition to serving U.S. and NATO militaries, these two major airbases are needed to serve the F-16s Romania recently acquired from Norway.
Romania hosts a key element of the U.S. European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense effort for NATO. The fully operational system was integrated as part of NATO’s ballistic missile defense at the Warsaw NATO Summit in July 2016. The two countries signed a ballistic missile defense agreement in 2011. In October 2014, the U.S. Navy formally established Naval Support Facility Deveselu – the United States’ first new Navy base since 1987 – where the EPAA Aegis Ashore missile defense site has been constructed. The base houses over a hundred U.S. sailors and Navy contractors on a persistent, rotational basis.
Romania’s Assistance to Ukraine
Romania is a pillar of NATO’s security in southeastern Europe. Following Putin’s expanded invasion in February 2022, Romania has provided over €3 million ($3.1 million) in assistance to Ukraine including ammunition, fuel, water, and medicine. Romania has also welcomed a larger military presence from the United States, which already has approximately 3,000 personnel at several military bases throughout the country. At the June NATO Summit in Madrid, President Biden announced the United States would headquarter a rotational Brigade Combat Team (BCT) in Romania.
U.S. Security Assistance to Romania
In FY 2022, in recognition of Romania’s support to Ukraine and the challenges related to Russia’s brutal invasion in February 2022, the Department provided Romania with an additional $148 million in bilateral and CRIF Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance. This builds off the significant investments from FY2018-2021, during which time the Department provided Romania $148.52 million in FMF. This includes both bilateral assistance and to support the Black Sea Maritime Domain Awareness initiative and to counter Russian influence. The Department also provided $6.52 million in International Military Education and Training funding, which provides professional military education and training to military students to increase professionalization, build capacity in key areas, enhance joint interoperability, create a better understanding of the United States, and grow lasting military-to-military relationships. Since FY2022, the Department has provided over $410,000 in Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) funding through the Global Defense and Reform Program to embed an acquisitions advisor at the Ministry of National Defense. Institutionalizing an effective and transparent acquisitions process will enable Romanian forces to be better equipped.
In FY2018-2021, the Department of Defense provided Romania $81.6 million in Section 333 funding to bolster Romania’s capacity in the areas of maritime security, border security, counterterrorism, and counter-narcotics.
Security ties form the cornerstone of the U.S.-Romania relationship. The United States and Romania work together on issues of shared importance, including defense and deterrence, security cooperation, and NATO missile defense, among other areas. The United States provides security assistance to Romania to assist with its ongoing military modernization, improving interoperability with U.S. and Allied militaries, and increasing Romania’s expeditionary deployment capabilities in support of NATO’s collective defense as well as coalition operations with the United States.
U.S. Arms Sales and Defense Trade with Romania
The U.S. and Romania have a strong defense trade relationship that advances U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by strengthening the military capabilities of Romania, a NATO Ally, while supporting the U.S. defense industrial base. Romania consistently allocates two percent of its GDP to defense spending and has pledged an increase to 2.5 percent in 2023.
The United States has approximately $6.2 billion worth of active sales cases for U.S.-origin defense articles and services to Romania under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Recent and significant sales are listed here, and include Naval Strike Missile coastal defense systems, F-16-related equipment, Patriot missile systems, and HIMARS.
FMS are financed primarily by national funds, but also with additional U.S. Security Assistance (e.g., through Foreign Military Financing). Under the FMS program, the Department of State determines which countries may purchase defense articles, and the Department of Defense executes these arms transfers.
From FY 2017 to FY 2021, the United States authorized the permanent export of $296 million in defense articles (including agreements) to Romania via Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). The top USML categories were XI: Military Electronics ($210 million), II: Guns & Armament ($23 million), and XII: Fire Control, Laser, Imaging, and Guidance Equipment ($4 million).
Under DCS, PM’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) provides regulatory approvals in sales of defense equipment, services, and related manufacturing technologies controlled under the 21 categories of the U.S. Munitions List (USML). These sales are negotiated privately between foreign end-users and U.S. companies.
The United States also provides Excess Defense Articles (EDA) to support Romania’s defensive capabilities and that of NATO’s collective defense. This has included four transfers in the past five years in areas such as missile defense, with a total acquisition value of $88.8 million.
Romania’s Participation in Global Peacekeeping
Since 1991, Romanian peacekeepers have taken part in several international peacekeeping and crisis management operations. This includes service in the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), the NATO missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and Bosnia, and the EU-led Operation Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As of December 2022, Romania contributes 68 troops to KFOR.
Romania also participates in seven UN-led missions. As of September 2022, Romania contributes 12 police to MINUSCA, and an additional 58 experts, police, and staff officers to MINUSMA, MONUSCO, UNFICYP, UNMIK, UNMISS, and UNMOGIP, for a total of 70. Twenty-four of these professionals are women.
Romania continues to participate in regional operations with a frigate deployed to patrol the Black Sea (BLACKSEAFOR), and ground forces to South Europe (SEEBRIG). Romania also supported EU operations in Africa, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
Romania is an active participant in PM’s Global Peace Operations Initiative. Since 2007, Romania received $2.9 million via this program, primarily for helicopter maintenance and training support in FY 2019 to support their deployment to Mali (MINUSMA).
U.S. Defense Cooperation with Romania
Romania participates in a number of multilateral military exercises with the United States and other NATO Allies, including Defender Europe, Justice Eagle, and Scorpion Legacy.
Romania’s Membership in International Organizations
Romania and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including NATO, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, among others.