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Romanian Ambassador: On Romania’s support for Ukraine

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Romania’s support for Ukraine – a matter of principle approach and an example of European solidarity. By Daniel Ioniță, Romanian Ambassador to Sweden

This is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author. Each and every day we learn that we are living in challenging times when solidarity, cohesion and empathy are more important than ever. Indeed, we can endlessly argue about this statement, but to put it simple, the Swedish concept of “folkhemmet” (the people’s home), which emphasises social welfare and equality, and strives for societal progress, explains quite well the situation and it is very well spread not only in Sweden, but also in many parts of the World, including Romania and Ukraine. Therefore, when your “house” is set on fire, it is not only your responsibility to react, but also your neighbours` and friends` to take actions to restore a proper order.

Since the illegal and unprovoked Russian invasion against Ukraine started, Romania has provided a strong, multisectoral and constant support for Ukraine. This support covers a broad spectrum of actions, including political, humanitarian, strategic, and economic actions, it is aimed at increasing the resilience of Ukrainian society and government and it is taking place both in a bilateral context and within the EU, NATO and other relevant forums. Romania’s backing for Ukraine will continue in all forms as long as necessary, understanding that this is not only a moral and principled obligation in the sense of an international order based on rules, but also a direct investment in our national and Allied security.

Our stance on the situation in Ukraine is shared by many countries in the World, including the Kingdom of Sweden. Out of the many discussions I had with many Swedish officials and ordinary people, I understand that we are united in our strong commitments to help Ukraine to resist, to win the war, and to fully restore its territorial integrity. Moreover, holding Russia accountable for its violations of international law is a key issue for the Romanian and Swedish Governments. It is essential for justice and compensation, both for Ukraine as a State and for the victims of Russia’s war crimes, but also to maintain the rules-based world order.

Moreover, as a direct neighbouring country with Ukraine (currently, the common border between Romania and Ukraine has a length of 649.4 km, of which 273.8 km is land border, 343.9 km river border and 31.7 km sea border), Romania feels a particular responsibility about the huge human tragedy suffered by the innocent people which was caused by the barbaric acts of Russian Federation against the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In this respect, the words are not enough for expressing our utmost admiration and respect for the heroism that Ukraine and the Ukrainian people are displaying every single day in the face of the aggressor. More than 6,327,000 Ukrainians have crossed the territory of my country since the war started, out of which 82,670 Ukrainian citizens remained in Romania. For all of them we have provided free access to our health and education systems, as well as humanitarian aids.

In a more strategic terms, out of our own most relevant experiences, we know how important it was for the people of Romania and for the future of our country that we joined both NATO and the EU. Therefore, Romania will act in order to make sure that a secure, sovereign, and independent Ukraine becomes part of the European Union, and this was our position long before the Russian aggression. In this respect, Romania is advocating for an historic and visionary step – a decision to open accession negotiations with both Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, to be taken by the end of 2023. This will reconfirm our (EU) strategic vision – of a credible and strategic enlargement process and it will send a much-needed signal of support for both countries and their societies, at a very challenging juncture. As a riparian country to the Black Sea, we are very much concerned about the situation in that region and we know that what happens in the Black Sea doesn’t stay in the Black Sea and have broad implications. Therefore, we were restless in supporting Ukraine’s prospect of becoming a member state of the Alliance and the need for NATO’s consolidated support to strengthen the resilience, security and defence capabilities of vulnerable partners, especially for the Republic of Moldova.

In accordance with the conclusions of the European Council, Romania assists Ukraine through the dedicated financial support package and by adopting the eighth tranche of the European Instrument for Peace. It also supports strengthening the sanctions regimes targeting Russia and Iran, a country that stands by Russia in the war against Ukraine. When it launched its war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia has actually put into jeopardy global food security. Russia has basically declared war on food security. This is particularly important for the most vulnerable parts of the World, countries dependent on grains exported through the Black Sea ports. This is just another way in which Russia’s war of aggression affects regions far from the Black Sea Region.

We had to act and to find solutions. Therefore, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, alongside the EU Solidarity Lanes, were essential tools in ensuring supplies to countries and regions experiencing food shortages. Regardless of what Russia’s propaganda is trying to say, Russia does not really care about the impact of the war on the Global South countries. Romania is a large agriculture country and has its own excellent grains to be exported. At the same time, Romania remains committed to enhance the transit capacity via its Danube and Black Sea ports, as well as using to the utmost the cross-border infrastructure with Ukraine. Since the outbreak of the war, Romania has played a key part within the international efforts to facilitate Ukrainian grain exports and our borders with Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova are facing with an increased traffic in grains and other products. This was not an easy task, but we have implemented a set of complex measures aimed at increasing the transit capacity of our ports, as well as through the border crossing points at the border with Ukraine. As a result, more than 28.5 million tons of grains were successfully exported through my country, and another 4.7 million tons of grains and derivative products were imported by Romania. This means that (roughly) more than half of the goods transported via the EU Solidarity Lanes have passed through Romania, especially through the Danube and Black Sea ports.

Throughout the summer of 2023, Romanian authorities, especially the agencies for transportation, infrastructure, border management, have been in close contact with their Ukrainian and Moldovan counterparts. This coordination was supported by the European Commission and the USA and as a result, a number of new joint administrative and logistical measures have been agreed in this format.

The EU Solidarity Lanes allow Ukraine not only to export goods, but also to receive humanitarian aid. And in future – to receive the international support for the most necessary and needed reconstruction process. The role my country is playing in this respect should be understood in a much broader context than the current predicaments of Ukraine’s grain exports.


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