Putin’s war raises fears as NATO country detects ‘possible air space breach’

NATO member Romania is investigating whether its airspace was breached by Russia overnight as Moscow was attacking Ukraine.

On September 29 and 30, as Russia was launching a fresh series of air strikes on Ukraine, a group of drones was spotted heading towards Ukrainian territory close to the border it shares with Romania.

The Romanian Army’s radar surveillance system then noted a “possible unauthorised penetration into the national airspace”, the country’s Emergency Situations department said in a statement on Saturday morning.

A signal was detected on a route to the city of Galați, a southwestern Romanian city on the River Danube.

The sighting raised the alarm of Romanian officials, with the Ministry of National Defense alerting the forces in the Air Police Service and notifying the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations regarding the “establishment of emergency measures alerting the population” of the Tulcea and Galați counties, the statement read.

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Similarly to Galați, Tulcea was built on the Danube and faces the port of Reni in southern Ukraine.

The alarm measures, which included asking residents to find shelter, remained in place for approximately three hours.

Romanian forces rushed to the area where the radar signal was picked up.

The statement read: “Up to this moment, no objects have been identified that fell from the airspace on the national territory. The search will continue today.”

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Last week, Bucharest announced it would expand a no-fly zone area along a section of the border with Ukraine to deter Russian drones from entering the Romanian airspace, while engaged in military actions against Kyiv.

This signalled a growing concern in Romania that the war may spill over the NATO border.

Earlier this month, fragments of a drone similar to those used by the Russian military were found on Romanian soil for the second time since the beginning of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Since Vladimir Putin withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal, which had allowed the safe passage of grains from Ukrainian ports, much of the Russian fire has been focused on port infrastructure in Odesa and along the Danube to affect Kyiv’s main export. The focus on these targets has brought war closer than before to the Romanian border.

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Romania, which joined the Western military alliance in 2004, has received the solidarity of NATO following these air space breaches.

On Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg slammed as “reckless” and “destabilising” the incidents – although he stressed there was no indication Russia was deliberately attacking Romania.

NATO’s Article 5 provides that, if a member of the alliance becomes the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member will consider this act of violence and take action.

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