NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg delivers a speech as he reviews NATO multinational brigade in Craiova, Romania, October 9, 2017. Inquam Photos/Bogdan Danescu/via REUTERS

CRAIOVA, Romania (Reuters) – NATO launched a new multinational force in Romania on Monday to counter Russia along its eastern flank and to check a growing Russian presence in the Black Sea following the Kremlin’s 2014 seizure of Crimea.
The force will initially be built around a Romanian brigade of up to 4,000 soldiers, supported by troops from nine other NATO countries, and complementing a separate deployment of 900 U.S. troops who are already in place. The plans are to include additional air and sea assets to give the force greater capabilities.
“Our purpose is peace, not war,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly of alliance lawmakers, which is meeting this year in Bucharest.
“We are not a threat for Russia. But we need dialogue from a strong position of defense and discouragement,” he said, before flying to the Craiova military base in south-eastern Romania. …