Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta (Andreas Solaro / AFP)
BUCHAREST — Romania will increase its defense spending by an additional $215 million (€155 million) this year as tensions continue to rise in neighboring Ukraine, it said on Monday.
“We will raise the defense ministry’s budget by 700 lei ($215 million dollars) this year, or 0.2 percent of national output,” said Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta in a statement.
Romania, a member of NATO since 2004, had already increased its defense spending for the year from $1.9 billion to $2 billion (1.4 billion euros) in its annual budget in November.
It has strongly condemned the “annexation” of Crimea in neighboring Ukraine by Russia.
The money will be used to modernize existing capacities, Ponta added, saying the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have OK’d the move.
Romania has agreed to keep its public deficit under 2.2 percent of gross domestic product this year as part of a €4.0 billion ($5.5 billion) aid deal concluded with the IMF and EU last year.
Like Poland and the Baltic States, Romania has urged NATO to strengthen its forces in Eastern Europe as the worst East-West showdown since the end of the Cold War deepens.