France strengthens its military presence on Europe’s eastern flank

A French Rafale, in Mont-de-Marsan, October 6, 2022.

In the wake of Russia’s relaunch of intense bombing campaigns across Ukraine, particularly on civilian targets, France decided to bolster its military presence on Europe’s eastern flank by sending a new contingent of soldiers, men and equipment, including Leclerc tanks. This effort concerns Romania, Estonia and Lithuania.

The announcement was made by Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu during a hearing before the Senate Defense Committee on Tuesday, October 11. “Given the situation on NATO’s eastern flank, in view of the violence of the fighting in Ukraine, waged in this war by the Russian Federation, the President of the Republic [Emmanuel Macron] decided to increase our defensive stance”, he declared.

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The main effort concerns Romania, where France had sent 500 soldiers from the start of the war and then 100 airmen in May to ensure a medium-range defense system, the Mamba, which was deployed on the Black Sea coast. Sea, not far from Serpents’ Island. Paris decided Monday to add to this mission called “Aigle” a reinforced company of armored infantry fighting vehicles (VBCI) and a squadron of Leclerc tanks. This should correspond to a dozen tanks, as many armored infantry fighting vehicles, and about 200 more men.

In Romania, France holds the title of NATO’s “framework nation”. In other words, it coordinates training and operations with the other allied countries, mainly Belgium and the Netherlands, who have soldiers there on a rotating basis, as well as with the Americans, who have a very large base in Constanta, near the mouth. from the Danube, with nearly 3,000 men. The French are mainly based in Cincu, a city in central Romania, where a small military base was hastily expanded in the spring.

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France has also decided to bolster its workforce in Estonia, where it has regularly sent soldiers since 2017, as part of a mission dubbed “Lynx”. This effort will take place from 2023 through the deployment of a reinforced light infantry company. That’s 120 soldiers, equipped with Griffons, versatile armored vehicles. They will be added to the 350 French already deployed to the country, including a hundred pilots with four Mirage 2000 who contribute to the Estonian Air Police. In Estonia, the French army operates under the auspices of the United Kingdom, which is the ‘framework nation’ there.

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