Romania has imposed additional flight restrictions in parts of its air space along the Ukrainian border as Russian attacks on Ukraine’s Danube river ports have intensified fears of a spillover on nearby Romanian territory.
Drone debris following Russian attacks on Ukraine’s Danube river ports has been found in Romania – a NATO member – underlining security risks for the military alliance, whose members have a mutual defence commitment.
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An order from the Romanian defence ministry on Thursday banned piloted and unmanned aircraft from flying within 30km (19 miles) of the border with Ukraine at an altitude of less than 4,000 metres (more than 13,000 ft).
Romania already imposed an 8km (almost 5 miles) border exclusion zone for flights of less than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) in places since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Romania and Ukraine share a border of more than 100km (62 miles) along the Danube at a point where the river nears the Black Sea.
Romania’s defence ministry said it had enforced the additional restrictions between its Danube river ports of Sulina and Galati because of Russia’s attacks nearby.
“Given the intensifying Russian attacks on Ukraine’s river ports, measures to extend restrictions were necessary to ensure a more efficient monitoring and control of air space,” the ministry said.
Romania’s foreign ministry has twice summoned the Russian charge d’affaires following the discovery on Romanian soil of drone debris.
The defence ministry said it would deploy additional troops to southeastern Romania near the border with Ukraine and increase patrols and observation points, in an effort to prevent risks to residents.
Russian attacks on Ukraine’s river ports across the Danube from Romania have increased since mid-July when Moscow abandoned a year-old deal that lifted a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
NATO has said Russian air attacks near the border were “destabilising” even if there was no indication that Russia intended to hit a NATO member.
Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest grain exporters and the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta is now Kyiv’s largest alternative export route, with grains arriving by road, rail or barge across the Danube from ports that are coming under attack from Moscow.