Up and running. NATO’s multinational battlegroup in Bulgaria, led by Italy, achieved full operational capability on Wednesday, an important milestone for the Alliance in its effort to protect its member countries against security threats.
- The ceremony that marked the event was attended by Bulgaria’s Chief of Defence, Admiral Emil Eftimov, and the Commander of Italy’s Joint Operations Command, Lieutenant General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo.
The details. The multinational and combat-ready battlegroup was created in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It consists of more than 1000 personnel from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, the Republic of North Macedonia, and the United States, with Montenegro scheduled to join in early 2023.
- Italy assumed the role of framework nation in mid-October, contributing some 740 personnel from the infantry regiment “Torino” under the command of Colonel Francesco Alaimo.
- This is one of eight such battlegroups stretching across NATO’s Eastern flank – from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea in Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
It’s about deterrence. These NATO battlegroups project the strength of the transatlantic bond and seek to make it clear that any attack on one member state would be treated as an attack on the entire Alliance, as per Article 5 of the NATO Treaty.
Italy’s contributions. In addition to leading the Bulgarian battlegroup, Rome’s support for the Alliance’s operations encompass operations in Latvia, air patrol over the Black Sea, maritime surveillance in the Mediterranean, staffing the KFOR mission in Kosovo and the training of local personnel in Iraq.
- The country has been calling to strengthen NATO’s focus on the Southern flank. When he met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg assured her the Alliance is “vigilant […] to the challenges coming from the south.”