Romania moves air defense systems closer to Ukraine's border due to Shahed incidents - Reuters
After the incidents with the crash of Russian drones that attacked the port infrastructure of Izmail and Reni in Odesa region, Romania decided to move its air defense system closer to settlements on the Danube near the border with Ukraine. The number of military observation posts and patrols is also being increased in the area.
This was reported by Reuters. In these security measures, which are being introduced with an increase in the number of F-16 fighters and the expansion of the unmanned zone, the publication sees a sign of growing concern among the Romanian authorities about the prospects of the war spilling over into its territory.
According to Reuters, which received information from two senior defense officials, Romania has begun moving its air defense closer to the border with Ukraine and settlements on the banks of the Danube, whose Ukrainian bank is under attack by Russians in an attempt to destroy port infrastructure in Odesa region.
In addition, Romania has also increased the number of military observation posts and patrols in the areas bordering Ukraine.
"The measures, along with the deployment of four additional U.S. F-16 fighter jets and an expanded no-fly zone, are a sign of growing concern in Romania and the wider NATO alliance that the war in Ukraine could spill over into its territory," Reuters writes.
One hundred US troops and four US-designed F-16 fighter jets have arrived at the Borcha military airbase, about 150 km south of Izmail, the newspaper reminds. A 4-meter-high unmanned zone along the Romanian-Ukrainian border and up to 30 kilometers deep into Romanian territory was introduced in mid-October. The Romanian Defense Ministry hoped that this would be a deterrent to Russian drones entering Romanian airspace.
The publication recalled that after announcing its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Agreement, Russia launched massive attacks on Ukrainian ports and grain infrastructure. In particular, ports on the Danube, which is the main alternative route for Ukrainian grain exports to the Black Sea, were attacked.
The occupiers attacked the Ukrainian ports of Izmail and Reni, which are located opposite Romania on the other side of the Danube, with particular ferocity. And since the beginning of these Russian attacks, Romania has found the wreckage of Russian drones used by the enemy to attack Ukraine at least three times.
"The isolated incidents of drone landings in Romania underscore the risk of misunderstanding, or worse, between Russia and NATO, prompting the Romanian armed forces to increase security in the area to protect civilians, two sources said on condition of anonymity," the publication writes.
Reuters also reported that two bomb shelters have already been built in the village of Plauru, located a few hundred meters from Izmail, and residents of the border area receive warnings on their cell phones every time Russian drones are detected moving in the direction of Odesa and Romania.
However, according to the mayor of the local commune, Tudor Cernega, the effectiveness of the warnings is hampered by poor mobile phone signal in the area.
At the same time, Cernega expressed joy that his previous warnings about Russian drone debris falling in the border area had been heard.
"Two months ago, when I mentioned the suspicion that a drone might have crashed here, I was not taken seriously... Now everything has changed," he said.
At the same time, both the Romanian authorities and NATO leaders continue to insist that the downing of Russian drones in Romania was an accident.
For example, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters during his visit to Kyiv on September 28 that there was no evidence that the Russian strikes near the Ukrainian-Romanian border were a deliberate attack on Romania, but called them "reckless" and "destabilizing."
A similar statement was made by Romanian Defense Ministry spokesman Constantin Spinu. The official said that there were no signs that Russia had deliberately attacked Romania. At the same time, he emphasized that the nature of the attacks on Ukrainian territory near the border with Romania makes it impossible to prevent all violations, because "no country in the world can protect its airspace from all means of attack by 100%."
"They (Russian drones) fly at very low altitudes, sometimes less than 200 meters (above the ground)... They are built in such a way as to reflect radar waves the least," Spinu said.
The Romanian Defense Ministry also assures that it has not recorded a single case of Russian drones entering the country's airspace. And all three cases of drone wreckage found on Romanian territory "were not related to explosives."
The Romanian defense ministry is trying to explain the known incidents by an increase in the likelihood of "mistakes" due to the Russians' change in attack tactics.
The publication's interlocutors noted that after Ukraine strengthened air defense in Odesa region, Russian kamikaze drones "tend to fly lower, which makes them harder to hit, they often follow the Danube riverbed and arrive in swarms." The Romanian Defense Ministry also suggests that the occupiers are also launching dummies among the combat drones to deplete Ukrainian air defense.
Earlier, the Romanian Foreign Ministry acknowledged that the war in Ukraine has affected their country after several cases of Russian drone debris landing on Romanian territory.
Instead, Stoltenberg explained the lack of NATO's response to the downing of the Shahed in Romania by saying that the Alliance "has no indication that it was a deliberate attack."