Romania said on Wednesday that wreckage of what may be a Russian drone had landed in its territory across the Danube from Ukraine and said that if the wreckage turned out to be Russian, it would constitute “ a serious violation” of the sovereignty of a NATO member.
Russia has repeatedly attacked Ukrainian grain ports in the Danube Delta, including Izmail, located less than 200 meters from Romanian territory and which was again bombarded by Russian drones on Tuesday. It is not known, however, how the debris discovered Tuesday evening in the Romanian village of Plauru arrived there, or if it landed by accident.
If confirmed, the presence of the wreckage of a Russian drone in Romania “would be totally unacceptable and would constitute a serious violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Romania, a NATO ally state”, said said the country’s president, Klaus Iohannis, on his Facebook page.
As a member of NATO, Romania is covered by the alliance’s US-led commitment to collective security, which requires all members to come to the defense of any state that asks for help. help in case of attack. But Romania has avoided hinting that it could invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty, the cornerstone of the joint defense agreement, over the debris discovered on Tuesday.
Since Russia began its full-scale invasion in February 2022, NATO has faced the possibility of the war spreading to territories of member countries bordering Ukraine’s western border, potentially triggering an expansion of the conflict. . Those concerns were heightened in November last year, after a missile that Ukraine initially claimed was Russian killed two Poles in a village near the border with Poland, also a member of the NATO, and Ukraine. But tensions eased when it turned out to be a Ukrainian air defense missile.
Confusion has also surrounded recent events in Romania. On Monday, Ukraine again claimed that Russia had struck a NATO country, while Romanian officials, including President Iohannis, initially insisted that no Russian debris had been found from their Danube side.
On Wednesday, however, Romanian Defense Minister Angel Tivar said search teams sent to the scene had “found parts that could belong to a drone” near Plauru. In a television interview during a visit to the village, Mr Tivar played down any risk of escalation. He said there were no plans to evacuate residents of the area and said of the debris: “This debris does not pose a threat.”
Russian attacks on Ukrainian Danube ports have increased sharply in recent weeks as Moscow seeks to cut off what used to be a lifeline for Ukraine’s shipping. Danube ports have been critical to Ukraine’s ability to export grain since the collapse in July of a deal that allowed Ukraine to ship grain past the Russian navy via the Black Sea.
With Ukrainian Black Sea ports such as Odessa also frequently attacked by Russia, and with Russia warning that it might consider any ships approaching these ports as potentially hostile, they are now too dangerous for vessels carrying cereals for the Middle East and Africa. The Danube ports are now the last outlet for millions of tons of grain.