Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, has called for an urgent investigation into apparent drone debris discovered on its soil after Russian attacks on neighbouring parts of Ukraine.
Romania, a Nato member, had repeatedly rejected claims by Kyiv that Iranian-made Russian drones fell and detonated on Romanian territory during a strike on the Ukrainian port of Izmail on Sunday night.
The defence ministry said in a press release: “Investigators discovered elements resembling drone debris in the evening of 5 September.”
The discovery was made in the vicinity of Plauru, a village on the other side of the Danube from the Ukrainian port of Izmail. The ministry said technical analysis would now be carried out to “determine origin and characteristics” of the debris.
After stating earlier this week that no drone or debris had been recovered on Romanian soil, Iohannis appeared to row back on Wednesday, calling for an “urgent and professional” investigation.
“If it is confirmed that these elements belonged to a Russian drone, such a situation would be completely inadmissible and a serious violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Romania, a Nato ally,” he said at the start of the Three Seas Initiative summit hosted by Bucharest.
Catalin Drula, the leader of the centre-right opposition USR party, accused the government of an attempted cover-up. “They lied for two days. Ukraine told the truth. Their instinct is to sweep it under the rug,” he wrote on Facebook.
Bucharest has strongly condemned the Russian attacks on Ukraine’s Danube infrastructure.
Early on Wednesday, one person was killed in new Russian drone attacks on a port district in the Ukrainian city of Odesa, close to Romania’s border. Residents on the Romanian bank of the Danube posted videos and pictures of the attack on social networks.
“People are panicking a bit. There are only 370 metres between our borders,” said Timur Cius, the mayor of the Romanian border village of Chilia Veche. “We heard everything, of course. By now we are already used to the sound of sirens and whatnot. But we feel safe here because we are in a Nato country.”
After the collapse in July of the UN-brokered deal allowing grain shipments from Black Sea ports, Moscow has ramped up attacks on Ukraine’s Odesa and Mykolaiv regions, home to ports and infrastructure vital for agriculture exports.