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Northern Greek port becomes new key to NATO efforts

The northeastern port of Alexandroupoli has become an important staging point for sending NATO equipment to Eastern European member-states, but also embattled Ukraine.

Alexandroupoli’s importance was enhanced when Turkey shut down the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits to military vessels and the transport of military equipment, as it was allowed to do under the 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits.

US military equipment is being sent through Alexandroupoli to Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, as NATO has decided to reinforce its eastern flank given Vladimir Putin’s demand that NATO forces withdraw from all of Eastern Europe, and his unpredictability. Poland recently received Abrams tanks and Bradley armored personnel carriers from the United States.

Defense sources have told Kathimerini that military equipment has already been sent to Ukraine through Alexandroupoli; some of the 20 Bushmaster armored combat vehicles that Australia will provide Ukraine will also transit through the Greek port.

The region of Thrace, being close to the Black Sea, has also served as a passage to planes patrolling the sea, some of them launched from the USS Harry S Truman. It is also on the flight path of unarmed Global Hawk drones that launch from Sicily and also monitor the Black Sea from a flight altitude of 55,000 feet (about 16,700 meters).

More US drones, of a different type (the MQ-9, also known as the Reaper) may be staged on the Andravida Air Base in western Greece. And the Larissa Air Base, in Central Greece, is undergoing a 35-million-euro upgrade, closely monitored by US military officials, who have expressed interest in a further expansion of the base.