Given the geopolitical turmoil triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the port of Alexandroupoli in northern Greece remains crucial for US plans in the context of reinforcing allied forces in the east flank of NATO.
Kathimerini understands that a few days ago, the Americans considered the possibility of transferring up to 3,000 US Armed Forces troops through Alexandroupoli, in case a decision is made to further bolster those already deployed in Bulgaria and Romania.
Until now, moves to strengthen the NATO Response Force (NFR) have taken place through Germany, which is closest to Poland, the main neighbor of war-torn Ukraine. At present, however, the only decision that has been made, and announced, by the Pentagon is to station three KC-135 tankers and the accompanying personnel (150 people) at the Souda base in Crete. From here they will refuel airborne radars and other US Air Force aircraft conducting surveillance operations in NATO member countries on the Black Sea coast, like Romania and Bulgaria, that do not have the relevant capabilities.
The Greek Armed Forces are participating in the high-readiness NRF, which was activated almost immediately after the Russian invasion.
Even though no assistance has been requested from Athens until now, it is expected that in the coming days there will be discussions regarding the possibility of transferring some elements of the armed forces to Romania or Bulgaria.
Although there has been no specific request yet, the surveillance capabilities of the Hellenic Air Force are considered particularly important for NATO, and so the deployment of some officers to one of these two member-states should not be ruled out.
Meanwhile, there will be two very crucial meetings in the next 10 days at the level of defense ministers, first of NATO on March 16 and then of the European Union on March 21, to assess the effects of the war in Ukraine.
In particular, the NATO Ministerial Summit will discuss the possibility of adding capabilities to the NRF, which includes aircraft units, warships, army elements and special forces.
In recent days, the nuclear aircraft carriers Harry S. Truman of the US and Charles de Gaulle of France have been sailing in Greek seas and in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, escorted by vessels of the Hellenic Navy.