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Romanian officials said on Wednesday that a potential Russian drone landed on its territory during a Russian attack on Ukraine Sunday.
Angel Tîlvăr, the Defense Minister of Romania – a NATO member – said that debris from a possible Russian killer drone was discovered on its territory close to the Danube River in Tulcea county, which is on the east side of the country bordering Ukraine, POLITICO reported. The announcement comes two days after the country “categorically” denied Ukraine’s claims that a Russian drone had detonated “on the territory” of the country.
“We covered a very large area, including the area about which there were discussions in the public space and I confirm that pieces were found that could be a drone,” Tîlvăr said in a statement to Antenna 3 CNN.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that if the drone is in fact a Russian drone, it would constitute a “serious violation of the sovereignty and territory of Romania, a NATO ally.” Iohannis said that an investigation into the incident is underway.
The defense minister added that the piece didn’t pose a threat to Romania. It’s not entirely clear when the suspected drone may have landed on Romanian territory, but on Sunday night, Russia carried out a “massive” attack against Ukrainian port infrastructure in Izmail, on the Danube River. The drone debris was discovered in Plauru, Romania – a small village across the river from Izmail, according to a Washington Post report.
Officials from the NATO country did not ever insinuate the drone may have been part of an intentional attack, the Post report adds. Under Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, all member states “agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.” Romania joined NATO in 2004.
“Since last year, in response to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, NATO has significantly increased its presence in the Black Sea region,” NATO spokesman Dylan White said regarding the news. “We continue to monitor the situation closely, and we remain in close contact with our Ally Romania.”
On Monday, Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko claimed “Russian ‘Shakheds’ fell and detonated on the territory of Romania,” a claim that Bucharest initially denied. Romania had reportedly been searching the area for debris for “a few days,” according to Defense Ministry spokesman Constantin Spanu.
According to the Post, Spanu said that it was still too early to comment on any possibility of invoking Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, which allows member states to “bring an issue to the attention of the North Atlantic Council … and discuss it with Allies,” as the NATO website states. If invoked, there’s a possibility of “some form of joint decision or action” from NATO.
Article 4 has only been invoked seven times, including once after Russia invaded Ukraine last year by Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia to hold meetings to discuss the escalation in the region
Russia invaded Ukraine last February, and the war has dragged on with no end in sight. Last week, Ukrainian generals said they had breached Russia’s first line of defense near Zaporizhzhi, according to The Guardian. However, the prime minister of Hungary — a NATO member — Viktor Orbán, said in an interview with Tucker Carlson last week that the notion Ukraine could win the war “is not just a misunderstanding. It is a lie. It’s impossible.”
In November of last year, a missile struck Poland, killing two people. Initial reports suggested the missile was fired by Russia, sparking serious concerns about what reaction NATO may have had. It was later determined that the missile likely came from Ukrainian air defenses — not from Russia.
Ukraine has relied on the West for supplies, weapons, and other support throughout the war. The Biden administration has continued to send aid to the country, despite a CNN poll released last month showing a majority of Americans oppose additional funding.