NATO statement to include intent to bolster allies' air defences, says Romanian president

FILE PHOTO: EU-Western Balkans summit in Brussels

(Reuters) - The pending NATO summit statement in Washington will include an intention to bolster air defences along the eastern flank of the alliance, Romania's president said on Wednesday.

Romania, a NATO member since 2004, shares a 650-km (400-mile) border with Ukraine and has had Russian drone fragments stray into its territory repeatedly as Moscow attacks Ukrainian ports just across the Danube River border.

"You will see in tomorrow's statement ... planned measures to bolster air defenses on the eastern flank," President Klaus Iohannis told reporters. "This concerns us, there have been ... situations in which drones fell on our national territory."

Romania said in June it would donate a Patriot system to Ukraine, part of a delivery of five such systems and other strategic air defence units pledged by NATO states to Ukraine as it battles Russia's 28-month-old invasion.

"Our condition is that when we donate large scale systems such as Patriot that we be adequately compensated," he said.

"This is being negotiated these days with the American partner, with NATO. Our wish is to receive another Patriot system in exchange, not right away but at a future date. But I believe we will also manage to obtain systems which will be delivered faster connected to air defence."

Romania signed its $4 billion deal to get Patriots in 2017, the NATO and European Union state's biggest procurement contract to date. The first shipment was delivered in 2020. Romania has received four systems so far, with only two operational.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; editing by Mark Heinrich)