April 15, 2024

Romania found more debris suspected to be from a Russian drone on Wednesday, following Russian strikes on Ukrainian Danube ports just across the border. It was the third such discovery on Romanian soil in less than two weeks.

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, said that the Izmail and Reni ports, which lie across the Danube, just a few hundred yards from Romanian soil, were struck and damaged, injuring seven civilians. Russia has repeatedly attacked Ukrainian ports along the Danube since the collapse of a grain deal in mid-July that allowed Ukraine to safely ship its grain through the Black Sea.

In a statement, the Romanian Ministry of National Defense reiterated that Russian attacks on Ukraine’s Danube port infrastructure so near Romania would contradict rules of international law.

The Romanian Air Force first identified the fragments as potentially from a drone, and the Romanian authorities then identified the source as a drone similar to those used by the Russian Army. The Ministry of National Defense said that a verification team would continue to analyze the debris.

As a NATO member, Romania is protected by the U.S.-led alliance’s commitment to collective security and mutual defense, which considers an attack on any NATO member an attack on all.

Romania avoided any hint that it might invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty, the cornerstone of the joint defense pact, over debris found in roughly the same area last Tuesday. In a television interview, Romania’s defense minister, Angel Tilva, said that “these pieces don’t pose a threat.”

After more debris was found on Saturday, the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, in a message posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, objected to “this violation of our sovereign air space” and that he had discussed the matter with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general.

Mr. Stoltenberg said the same day on X that there was no indication of any intent to hit a NATO member but that the Russian port “strikes are destabilizing,” adding that he welcomed “the U.S. decision to deploy more F-16s for NATO air policing.”

The NATO secretary general was referencing Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s recent announcement of expanded F-16 fighter jets to bolster NATO’s air policing in Romania, following his call last Thursday with the Romanian foreign minister, Luminita Odobescu. It was not immediately clear how many more F-16s — which already participate in NATO patrols over Eastern Europe — would be added to the patrols over Romania, or when they would start.

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