Romania and the Russia-Ukraine Crisis

In the early hours of February 24th, 2022, following an announcement from Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, a military operation has started in Ukraine. Lesia Vasylenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, said that “Ukraine is at war, a war which was declared by Russia at 5AM this morning, Kiev time, officially.”

Since then, there have been numerous reports of military activity and the sound of gunfire mixed with explosions. There have been official reports of at least multiple border breaches in Ukraine and missile strikes on airports and other infrastructure, and civilian properties, some of which were captured by press in the area.

At approximately 8 AM on February 24th, a missile was reported to have struck an airport in Ivano-Frankivsk, situated just 362.3km (~225 miles), from Cluj-Napoca and just 177km (~109 miles) from the Romania-Ukraine border crossing point. A serious and large conflict continues to happen across the country, which has resulted in large numbers of residents of Ukraine, fleeing to neighbouring countries, including Romania.

The government released important information and advice to Ukranians arriving into Romania. You can read this here.

LATEST UPDATES AND INFORMATION

Various local and international news sources are actively covering the events as they unfold. Our website will not be reporting on the direct situation in Ukraine, and we encourage you to access other reputable news sources. However, the liveuamap.com website (Live Universal Awareness Map “Liveuamap”), which is an independent global news and information site, which gathers and reports location-based updates, as soon as they are publicly available.

Live Updates on liveuamap.com
Live Updates on liveuamap.com

You can visit the website here: liveuamap.com, however, the site has been experiencing various errors, likely due to increased traffic and may require multiple refreshes before it loads correctly.

How does the Ukraine-Russia conflict affect Romania?

Romania is a part of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) since 2004, and NATO is one of Russia’s primary concerns. There is no indication that Russia has any plans to invade Romania, despite some news sources having suggested that “he [Putin] will not stop there”, and that he is on a “campaign of liberation” with aims to take down the Ukrainian government who Putin refers to as a “Neo-Nazi regime” and that he can throw similar claims at any other states in the Baltics.

President Klaus Iohannis convened the Supreme Council of National Defense (CSAT) on Thursday, at 11.00, in the context of the conflict in Ukraine.

The Romanian Army announced that it has activated the military command points with attributions in monitoring the situation and coordinating the forces and means destined for the concrete situations that may arise.

At 10:44 AM, Minister of Internal Affairs, Lucian Bode, wrote on Facebook,

“I strongly condemn the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. It is certainly an act of aggression that violates the principles of international law and seeks to redefine the relations between states in current security architecture.

As a member of the Romanian Government, as a Minister of Internal Affairs, as a Romanian I express my solidarity with the authorities and the Ukrainian people and support this state’s right to sovereignty, integrity and freedom.In these tragic moments, I reiterate Romania’s commitment to support the citizens of Ukraine, including by taking over and managing possible flows of refugees from this country.We understand, all the more in such moments of trouble, the importance of Romania’s belonging to NATO, a quality that assumes security guarantees for Romanians.

At the same time, we are aware of the responsibilities that assume our commitments as a security provider in this region of Europe, implied from Romania’s geostrategic position.

This is how we understand, let us be in solidarity, determined in respecting the principles that were the basis of our NATO affiliation: peace, freedom, democracy and, of course, border security.”

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Romania Requests for the Activation of “Article 4”

Romania’s Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu, has also announced that they require the activation of “Article 4 of the Washington Treaty”, which indicates that Romania wishes to request consultations with other member states as it considers that its territorial integrity, political independence or security are at risk.

President Klaus Iohannis Addresses Romania following CSAT meeting.

The President openly condemned the actions of Russia against Ukraine and offered assurances to Romania that by being under the security umbrella of NATO, the country is safe and united with other NATO members.

The president told the Romanians that Romania benefits from the widest possible security guarantees and never in history, the country has not been better protected from any potential aggression.

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“Dear Romanians, I assure you that no Romanian should be afraid for the safety of himself and his family. NATO membership, the partnership with the USA represents a strong solidarity security umbrella. I want to emphasize very clearly: Romania will not be drawn into the military conflict in Ukraine. Romania is ready to deal with any economic and humanitarian consequences that could lead to a lasting conflict between Russia and Ukraine”, said the President. “Russia has responded to international peacekeeping and dialogue efforts with rockets hitting Ukrainian cities and military targets. Today, Russia has chosen the strength of tanks at the expense of human life. Russia is the aggressor, not the victim, as the Kremlin is trying to prove, and the whole planet clearly sees this indisputable truth,” stated President Klaus Iohannis.

President Klaus Iohannis

President Klaus Iohannis, also had a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reaffirming Romania’s commitment to provide support through humanitarian assistance.

In another CSAT meeting which took place on March 1st, President Klaus Iohannis said that Romania supports the integration of Ukraine, Republic of Moldova and Georgia into the European Union.

He re-affirmed that Romania will not be drawn into the military conflict in Ukraine and that residents here should not fear for their safety.

“No Data that Romania is Targeted by Russia”

United States Vice President, Kamala Harris, visited Romania on March 11th, 2022 to discuss the evolution of the Ukraine-Russia conflict and to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to defending all of NATO’s territory.

When asked by journalist Roxana Zamfirescu, what the chances were of the war extending towards Romania and the Republic of Moldova, the U.S. Vice President responded, “As it relates to what might be the future conduct of Putin, I cannot speculate, but we are clear in our position, which is that as a member of NATO,  an attack against one, is an attack against all“.

The Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis, built upon her statement by saying, “I can highlight the fact that, we do not have information that would indicate that Romania would represent a target of an aggression. On the other hand, it is very clear, that this Russian action, this war started against Ukraine, definitely produced a result, a visible, a firm, a clear result, and it’s represented by the unity of NATO and the determination of NATO allies to stand together and to defend each other.”

Romanian MiG-21 and Military Helicopter Crash

On March 2nd, 2022, a Romanian MiG-21 fighter jet took off from the Mihail Kogălniceanu air base for an air patrol mission over Dobrogea at around 7:50 PM. The aircraft then lost radio contact and disappeared from radar at 8:03 PM.

An IAR 330-Puma helicopter was sent on a search-and-rescue mission at 8:21 PM. However, it also disappeared from radar at 8:44 PM

The Ministry of National Defence was quoted saying, “The pilot had reported unfavorable weather conditions and had been ordered to return to base. The last known position of the helicopter, which had on board a crew of five soldiers, is the area of ​​Gura Dobrogei, about 11 km from the aerodrome. The condition of the crew or aircraft is unknown. And in this case, the search-rescue operations were launched”.

The two aircraft were both reported to have crashed, with 7 members of the helicopter losing their lives and also the pilot of the MiG-21 LanceR.

The Minister of Defence, Vasile Dîncu, declared that “We have no other clues than the bad weather and the technical condition of the aircraft” being the cause of the crash.

Russian Diplomats Expelled

In response to atrocities committed in Bucha by the Russian forces, Romania expelled 10 Russian diplomats, labelling them as “persona non gratae”, which translates from Latin to “a person not acceptable”.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “the Romanian authorities have decided to declare as persons non gratae on Romanian territory 10 people working within the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bucharest, considering that their activities and actions contravene the provisions of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. These elements were communicated to the Russian side today, April 5, 2022, on the occasion of the convening at the MFA headquarters, at the request of Minister Bogdan Aurescu, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Bucharest, Mr. Valery Kuzmin, Secretary of State for Strategic Affairs. On the occasion of the convocation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated the firm condemnation of the crimes committed in Bucha and in other localities in Ukraine, for which the responsibility belongs to Russia”

Russian MFA spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to the actions by saying, “On April 5, the Romanian authorities, under an invented pretext, declared ten diplomats of the Russian Embassy in Bucharest” personae non gratae “. We strongly reject these propagandist assumptions and categorise Romania’s efforts as part of a campaign by the United States and its European allies to discredit Russia’s special military operation to protect the civilian population in Donbass, demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine”.

 

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Ukrainian adviser to the President’s Office, Mikhail Podoliak, communicated that there has been a possible capture of Chernobyl.

“After the fierce battle, our control over the Chernobyl site was lost. The condition of the facilities of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, confinement [insulating shield around reactor 4] and nuclear waste storage facilities is unknown. After a completely senseless Russian attack in this direction, it is impossible to say that Chernobyl is safe. This is one of the most serious threats to Europe today. Knowing the habits of the Russians, they are probably already preparing provocative things at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Either they will use the damage received by the objects during the attack to blame Ukraine for this, or they will damage these certainly most dangerous objects.”

The Chernobyl power plant experienced a disaster on 26 April 1986 near the city of Pripyat in the north of the what was the Ukrainian SSR in the Soviet Union. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history both in cost and casualties.

The plant is 80 miles north of Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine in a tweet also warned that a Russian attack on Ukraine “may cause another ecological disaster.”, in the event that the facility is hit by gunfire or explosions, ultimately threatening the health of citizens of nearby EU countries.

Studies have indicated that there are possible links between the fallout as a result of the disaster and an increase of thyroid carcinoma.

Republic of Moldova

Moldova has very close ties with Romanian, however, there’s been a very clear divide across some areas of the country which are “Pro-Russia” and “Pro-European / Romanian”.

The President of Moldova, Maia Sandu, announced after the meeting of the Supreme Security Council that the Government will ask Parliament to declare a State of Emergency in the country in the context of the war in Ukraine.

The Russian military announce “planned exercises” of “peacekeepers” in the Transnistria Russian-controlled region of Moldova that borders Ukraine in the west.

On Friday 25th, at around 2:15 PM (Romanian time), the Moldova-registered tanker ship, “Millennial Spirit” was reportedly targeted and struck by a Russian warship. This was initially miscommunicated by the Defence of Ukraine by using the Romanian flag, instead of the Moldovan flag, likely due to the fact that the two flags are extremely similar.

Of course, this is still bad news, as Romania and Moldova have deep ties and Moldova have a complex relationship with Russia.

Moldova Transnistria Region

An area named “Transnistria”, was established in 1990 after the fall of the Soviet Union in an aim to provide the possibility of remaining under Soviet control in the event that Moldova were to seek unification with Romania.

According to sources, there are around 1,300 Russian troops camped out in the Transnistria region, which runs along the border of Ukraine, close to Odessa.

Klaus Iohannis and Maia Sandu, during the joint press conference in Chisinau. Photo: Presidential Administration

During a press conference with Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis, Moldovan President Maia Sandu said that Russia should withdraw troops from Transnistria

According to her, the Russian Federation should do this, since it plays a significant role in this region.

Explosions in Transnistria

On April 25th, 2022, an explosion was reported at the building of the MGB, the Transnistrian secret service, and on the 26th, two unexplained explosions were reported in the breakaway territory within Moldova, which houses over 1,500 Russian troops. According to the reports, two radio towers were damaged by explosions, which Ukraine described as a planned provocation by Russia in an aim to destabilise the region.

According to reports, two unidentified people fired a grenade launcher at the structures, which were constructed during the Soviet era and used to broadcast Russian news. Russia officials have said that “Russian speakers in Moldova are being oppressed”, which is similar language used when Russia chose to invade Ukraine and the Kremlin has informed that they are watching the situation closely and that it is “a cause for concern”.

Following the explosions, on the 27th, there were reports of gunshots near Cobasna, a villiage in the region which houses an old Soviet-era ammo depot and is situated just 2 km from the Ukrainian border.

NATO and Foreign Involvement in Romania

The U.S. sent around 1,000 additional troops to Romania on February 9th, along with various military hardware, which arrived on 11 Feb 2022 and two F-35 Lightning II aircraft arrived at Borcea 86th Air Base on February 24th.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby informed, “I want to be very clear about something; these are not permanent moves. They are moves designed to respond to the current security environment. Moreover, these forces are not going to fight in Ukraine, they are going to ensure the robust defense of our NATO allies.”.

Participation in consultations hosted by the President of the United States of America, Joseph R. Biden, with allied leaders and the institutions of the European Union on regional security
Romania’s President, Klaus Iohannis, participating in consultations hosted by the President of the United States of America, Joseph R. Biden, with allied leaders and the institutions of the European Union on regional security.

President Iohannis also announced that Romania is ready to host the NATO fighting group, and that a location has already been decided. He was quoted by Bursa saying, “We talked to President Macron on the sidelines of last night’s meeting on this issue. We remain involved, France still wants to be involved, we still want this battle group. And yes, I can tell you that we are ready; we know where this battle group will be positioned, but this battle group is not yet formally approved at the NATO level, but we are optimistic that the allies will agree. The discussions will take place this spring. Finally, when everything is resolved and clarified, we will be able to make public statements about who participates, where other interesting details will be positioned for the Romanian public, but right now not yet”.

(11 Feb 2022) NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg paid an official visit to Romania on Friday, where he joined the country's president at a military air base.

The U.S. and other countries have stressed that they will not be sending troops to fight in Russia, but that the troops and forces being deployed to Ukraine’s NATO neighbours, are aimed at supporting and protecting NATO member states and to provide humanitarian assistance.

France and Brussels Send troops to Romania

On February 28th, 2022, the French Embassy confirmed that France would be accelerating the sending 500 military units to Romania as part of the “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).

Brussels also said that they will be deploying 300 soliders to Romania as a part of NATO’s “Rapid Response”

Other European NATO Contributions

Germany’s defence minister informed that they would be sending three more fighter jets to Romania to support the NATO air policing mission. These fighter jets arrived at the Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base on February 24th 2022.

Four British RAF Typhoon figher jets have been patrolling airspace over Romania and Poland

 
German Fighter Jets
Photo: Baza 57 Aeriană

Ukrainians Fleeing to Romania

Romania has the longest land border with Ukraine compared to all other NATO members. There has been an expectation of neighbouring countries seeing the arrival of people from Ukraine and seeking refuge from the crisis.

Romania’s defence minister, Vasile Dîncu, announced on February 22nd, that they [Romania] are prepared to take in up to 500,000 Ukrainian refugees if needed.

“There are several estimates, but we could receive over 500,000 refugees, that is…the number for which we have prepared alongside the interior ministry and other institutions,” he said and continued by adding, “There is a plan prepared for all large cities, there are areas for this near the borders”.

The foreign ministry strongly recommended that Romanian citizens should leave the country as soon as possible, and other countries have recommended similar action in recent days.

Between February 10th and March 1st, Romanian Foreign Minister, Bogdan Aurescu, informed that over 140,000 Ukrainian citizens have crossed into Romania.

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Important Information for Ukranians Arriving in Romania

The folder contains important information (in Ukrainian or English) regarding access to Romania, access to the labor market, access to medical services or the necessary steps to obtain asylum status.

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