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Ukraine claims at least one Russian attack drone fired at one of its Danube Delta ports overnight crashed on the territory of NATO member Romania across the river, signaling a potentially serious escalation in Moscow’s all-out invasion of its neighbor.
Romania’s Defense Ministry “categorically denied” the reports on Monday. Two Ukrainian officials told the FT that such an incident was not the first, but declined to explain why Bucharest denied it.
The drone attack came just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi to discuss the restart of the A deal brokered by the United Nations and Ankara to allow Ukraine to export grain through Black Sea ports is being negotiated.
The incident came as Russian troops attacked Ukrainian Danube ports, including Izmail, for the second night in a row. Ukrainian State Railways announced on Monday that it was imposing restrictions on “all goods” transport to Izmail, a sign that the Russian strike has further crippled Kiev’s ability to export grain to global markets.
Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said in a Facebook post that the incident “confirmed once again that Russian missile terrorism is not only harmful to Ukraine’s security, but also to its neighbors, including NATO members.” pose a serious threat to the country’s security.” “.
Similar incidents have the potential to spread the war to NATO countries. In November, debris from what appeared to be a Russian airstrike fell on Poland. Ukraine also claims that Russia has repeatedly fired cruise missiles over Moldova’s airspace or along its borders to evade the country’s air defenses.
In a statement on its website, Romania’s defense ministry said the “means of attack never took place”. . . direct military threat to Romanian state territory or territorial waters,” adding that Bucharest had been monitoring developments since the latest round of attacks began on Saturday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andrey Yermak, said that “Western allies are needed to provide additional offensive weapons such as air defense systems and long-range missiles to completely drive Russian troops out of Ukrainian territory.”
Oleg Kiper, governor of the Odessa region of southern Ukraine, which lies on the northwest corner of the Black Sea, said 17 attack drones were intercepted in the Izmail region earlier on Monday, “but unfortunately there were also attacks. “Warehouse and production buildings, agricultural machinery and aircraft. Industrial enterprise equipment.
Tudor Cernega, the mayor of the Romanian town of Cetarchioi, said that “heavy” bombing had been reported in the Izmail area, adding: “But regarding a drone in Romania — No, no, no. I don’t know anything now.”
It is unclear how the incident will affect Putin’s talks with Erdogan on restarting a Black Sea food deal brokered in July 2022. Russia withdrew from the initiative two months ago, citing assurances that its fertilizer exports would reach global markets had not been fulfilled.
Since then, Kiev has unilaterally activated a sea corridor through which four cargo ships have passed, as a test of Moscow’s blockade of its ports.
Sandu-Valentin Mateiu, a Romanian defense analyst, former naval commander and intelligence officer, said it was entirely possible that a drone would strike Romania.
“Romania tries to avoid escalation as long as there is no real threat,” Mateiu said. “This is the guideline. We will remain cautious, extremely diplomatic – until a threat on our territory or in our waters becomes a reality.”
He said it was extremely unlikely, if any, that the attack on Romania was deliberate.
“Russia knows that NATO will defend every inch of its territory. Romania will not bother to activate [Nato’s joint defence clause] As long as it doesn’t translate into a real threat to our people.
“Nor does Russia dare to attack the bridge in Juljulesti,” he said, referring to a rail and road line that spans the Danube through the Moldovan border town of Juljulesti, which is used to export via Romania Ukrainian food.