Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba visited Bulgaria and Romania last week to seek support for his country, which has been attacked by Russia. On Friday (April 22nd), Kuleba met in Bucharest with Prime Minister Nicola Chuca and Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu. The issue of sending weapons to Ukraine was also raised in the Romanian capital.
“If a country comes to us and says, ‘We don’t have tanks, but we have bulletproof vests,’ we understand that, it’s your sovereign choice, it’s your national interest. In some cases, we see that states can do something but not they do it because they do not want to have bad relations with Russia, “Kuleba said after meeting with Prime Minister Nicolae Chuka. The Ukrainian foreign minister said he had raised the issue of arms supplies, adding: “We leave it to the countries to decide how they can help us.”
“If we see that this is not happening, we will increase diplomatic and public pressure. What we do not accept is hypocrisy. This is not the case with Romania. Since the beginning of this war, Romania has been very honest, open, friendly and active,” he said. Kuleba at a press conference with Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu.
“Weapons, like money, love silence, and we do not comment on what we get and where we come from, unless there is an official announcement. Romania’s policy since February 24 is smart. You can interpret the rest yourself,” he said. .
MiG fighters 21
Asked what military assistance Romania has provided to Ukraine and whether Romania will donate its MiG-21 fighters to Ukraine, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu declined to say, “it’s not good to talk about these things in public” because “things are constantly evolving “.
On April 15th, the Romanian Ministry of Defense announced that Romania was suspending flights of its remaining MiG-21 Lancer military fighters due to a “significantly higher accident rate” and would speed up the planned purchase of used F-16 fighters from Norway.
“Romania may not have talked enough about what it has done,” Aurescu told a news conference with Kuleba.
“Romania is an extremely responsible country in fulfilling its international obligations to its strategic partners. Things are constantly evolving and I think it is not good to talk about these things publicly,” the Romanian foreign minister told a news conference.
Body armor and helmets
The government in Bucharest is not talking about military aid offered by Romania to Ukraine, Romanian media reported. Last month, Romania reportedly donated 2,000 body armor and 2,000 helmets to the Ukrainian army, worth a total of 2m euros.
Amendments to an ordinance allowing the donation of weapons
At the same time, Nacional reported on a draft emergency ordinance prepared by Romania’s Ministry of National Defense, which had been amended to allow Ukraine to donate arms and military equipment. Under current law, donations to other countries are not allowed, only the sale of weapons in case of surplus or obsolete products, or the decommissioning and scrapping of used ones.
“At the Extraordinary NATO Summit and the Council of the European Union on 24 March 2022, NATO and EU members decided to continue the necessary efforts to ensure the security and defense of all Allies in all areas within a 360-degree approach. “It was therefore considered necessary to establish appropriate mechanisms for the transfer of products from the armed forces’ own reserves for national defense between allied or partner countries,” the draft emergency regulation was quoted as saying by Nacional. The publication recalls that Ukraine has been a NATO partner since 1997.
“In view of the need to respond promptly to requests from allied or partner countries and the lack of a legal framework to allow the prompt delivery of requested assistance, urgent legislative intervention is needed, given that all these issues affect the interests of the national Security of Romania (() “, the government said in an explanatory memorandum to the draft emergency regulation.
Asked about the project a few days before Dmitry Kuleba’s visit to Romania, Prime Minister Nicolae Chuca said the law was under analysis and a concrete decision would be made as soon as it was finalized.
After meeting with Kuleba, Prime Minister Nicolae Chuka assured that Romania would continue to support Ukraine as humanitarian aid, in managing the flow of refugees and in facilitating Ukrainian exports.
For his part, Foreign Minister Aurescu reminded that Romania had reacted immediately, at the beginning of the Russian invasion, with the reception of Ukrainian refugees. Aurescu recalled the humanitarian center in Suceava County, which coordinates and delivers humanitarian aid in Ukraine.
Aurescu also said that crimes committed in Ukraine should not go unpunished, and reiterated that Romania supports an international investigation into Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
In information about Dmitry Kuleba’s visit to Sofia, Romanian media quoted the Ukrainian foreign minister as saying that his refusal to provide weapons to his country was tantamount to supporting the “Russian aggression and extermination” of Ukrainians.
In Bucharest, Kuleba said the best way to stop Putin is for Ukraine to get what it needs.
“You give us everything we need to win, and we keep Putin in Ukraine and defeat him there so that NATO Article 5 is not tested. The best way to stop Putin is to give Putin Ukraine needs what it needs, “Kuleba said.
“War is the moment of truth, then you see someone’s real face, and Romania has shown its true face, a friendly face. It not only speaks but also acts. We will never forget,” Kuleba said in Bucharest.
More than 800,000 Ukrainians have fled to Romania since the conflict began, and according to Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, Romania has so far provided humanitarian aid totaling $ 63 million to Ukrainian refugees.
Romanians support Ukraine
Public opinion in Romania is highly mobilized in support of Ukraine. A March poll by IRES found that 96 per cent of Romanians surveyed believe Romania should support Ukrainian refugees.
Thirty-eight percent of those polled said Romania should send weapons to Ukraine, and 21 per cent said Romania should intervene militarily in support of Ukraine.
Seventy-nine percent of Romanians are closely following developments in the neighboring country, and 60 percent fear Romania may be attacked, according to the survey.
Adevarul was quoted as saying by Mediapool that Romania has pursued a balanced policy with regard to Ukraine, without spectacular or aggressive statements, unlike in Poland or the Baltic states.
Commenting on Romania’s military assistance to the neighboring country, political analyst Stefan Vlaston told Adevarul that Romania may have helped or is helping the Ukrainian army discreetly, without media hype, although it said it was personal. he does not believe in such a thing. According to Stefan Vlaston, Romania is more likely not to help Ukraine militarily because it fears that Russia will emerge victorious from this war and does not want to upset Moscow too much.
According to foreign policy expert Oana Popescu-Zamfir, Romania has been cautious, and the reasons for this are complex and related to relations between the two countries over the past 30 years.
Oana Popescu-Zamfir believes that Romania is afraid of Ukraine because, from a geopolitical point of view, Ukraine is a huge country – the second largest after Russia in Eastern Europe. In addition, Popescu-Zamfir notes, Romania has generally had difficult relations with Ukraine, with disputes between the two countries over the status of the Romanian minority in Ukraine, northern Bukovina, the continental shelf and hydrocarbon reserves around Snake Island, the Bistroe Canal, the Krivoy Rog plant.
According to her, the ideal option for Romania is a Ukraine that is most connected to Europe – the EU / NATO, so that it is bound by the rules and collective decisions of these organizations, to be outside the sphere of Russian influence and dependent on the West, but not to be too strong.
In public statements surrounding the Ukrainian foreign minister’s visit to Bucharest, Romania pledged continued support for Ukrainian refugees and assistance for Ukrainian exports, and received an invitation from Dmytro Kuleba to take part in Ukraine’s reconstruction.