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French soldiers in Mali. Wikipedia/Garbage. Stock photo from Pixabay

French NATO soldiers in Romania hungry, freezing, overrun by rats 

French NATO soldiers stationed at the Cincu military base in Romania bitterly complained to an investigative journalist about the terrible living conditions they suffer. They live in filthy prefabricated houses from Mali that are hardly heated, there are not enough toilets, and garbage is piling up in the camp.

Published: November 18, 2022, 6:42 am

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    The soldiers “live in a swamp with rats and dogs”. According to the Allied Agreement, France is responsible for accommodation and necessary services such as water, energy, waste, etc. while Romania acts as host country.

    French journalist Justine Brabant uncovered the misery for the French outlet Mediapart and posted the damning evidence, including photos, on Twitter.

    According to reports from the soldiers, the meal consisted of an omelette, the bread from the day before and a soup with pieces of tomato. “I’m hungry, I’m cold, I’m tired,” wrote a soldier on WhatsApp to his relatives at the end of October. The scandalous situation went viral, with French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu visiting his Romanian counterpart, Angel Tilvar, last week.

    Brabant posted on Twitter that only a few selected soldiers from the dilapidated military base in question were allowed to be present at the meeting, because “of course, they would have had a lot to tell,” she wrote ironically in a thread.

    French General Staff: Rustic quarters are ‘normal’

    Brabant sent an inquiry to the French General Staff, and the response included: Rustic conditions are “normal” at the start of an operation. Between the lines it was conceded that there were temporary power outages too. But the situation will soon change, they promised. Meals would be improved and more toilets have been ordered.

    The Romanian Ministry of Defense (MApN) said that under Allied procedures, “the responsibilities for accommodation, troop rations and the provision of related services (water supply, energy, waste disposal, etc.) at the Cincu site have been fully assumed by the French side”. As the host country, the Romanian side had fulfilled all its obligations, according to a press release.

    Deterrence mission against Putin

    NATO’s first multinational battlegroup in Romania was created on February 28 on the occasion of the Ukraine conflict to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. France is leading the mission, which is also to run in a rotation system with forces from Belgium and the Netherlands.

    There are currently 350 soldiers in Romania, and there will eventually be a total of 700 deployed. In the coming weeks, the presence is to be increased by further armored infantry vehicles and Leclerc tanks, reported Le Figaro. The battlegroup has since been transformed into the NATO Response Force with the headquarters in Cincu.

    “France leads this year’s highest-readiness element of the NATO Response Force, a multinational force comprised of up to 40 000 land, air, maritime and special operations personnel that NATO can deploy at short notice as needed,” according to NATO.

    Following Brabant’s exposure of the scandal, some French MEPs called on the chair of the parliament’s defense committee to look into the matter. They face serious problems in terms of logistics and support, they said in a press release, citing the sparse meal, tents without heating, bed bugs and the poor sanitary conditions.

    This deplorable state of affairs is all the more shocking as the soldiers have been stationed there for eight months. In addition, they claim to be not a “combat mission but a deterrence and defense mission”. These soldiers therefore do not need to be “resilient”.

    What kind of “a deterrent signal is it for Russia when our soldiers starve and freeze,” they wanted to know. They also threatened to have the committee chair prosecuted.

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