Cluj-Napoca, Romania – “I guarantee you, no Romanian ought to worry for the protection of himself and his household,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis stated on Thursday, shortly after Russian troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine – its largest navy deployment since World Conflict II.
“Romania enjoys the widest attainable safety ensures. By no means in our historical past have we been higher protected in opposition to any potential aggression. Romania won’t be drawn into the navy battle in Ukraine,” stated the Romanian chief.
In a TV handle the identical night, Defence Minister Vasile Dancu stated Romanians “should not at risk” and that they shouldn’t be frightened as a result of there “received’t be a navy battle between NATO and Russia”.
Nevertheless, the assurances from the management of the nation of 19 million individuals might have little impact in Romania, a NATO member since 2004, the place many have been on edge because the Russian assault on Ukraine.
Romania’s worry is rooted in repeated Russian invasions over the centuries. The Russian-controlled territory of Transnistria in Moldova, simply 100 miles (160km) from the Romanian border, is Moscow’s western-most garrison.
Romania pledged “unconditional political assist” for Ukraine within the occasion of a Russian invasion and has offered Ukraine with cybersecurity backing.
As bombs started to fall in Ukraine early on Thursday morning, Bucharest-based pupil Valentin Lăzureanu woke as much as a cascade of notifications on his telephone saying the Russian assault.
“When the information and footage began coming in, I realised we didn’t have a devoted house for it and everybody was getting their info from so many scattered sources,” the 24-year-old informed Al Jazeera.
Lăzureanu created a Fb group the place individuals might share assets and confirm info to assist one another perceive what was taking place throughout the border.
Since then, younger Romanians within the group – referred to as Conflict Room – have been discussing attainable eventualities that would even engulf their nation.
“How seemingly is it that they might invade Romania as effectively?” requested one within the group.
Romanian international coverage analyst Oana Popescu-Zamfir informed Al Jazeera that whereas a direct navy battle between Russia and Romania is unlikely, political, financial and social repercussions of the Ukraine invasion are “palpable”.
“There’s a degradation of the regional safety scenario,” stated Popescu-Zamfir. “This impacts Romania economically as a result of your entire area is perceived by traders as having the next danger of funding.”
Popescu-Zamfir additionally famous that Romania, like a lot of Europe, relies on Russian gasoline. The battle might set off a spike in gasoline costs or full interruption of gasoline flows into Romania.
Ukrainians search asylum in Romania
Moreover the financial impact, Romania has additionally obtained greater than 10,000 Ukrainian asylum seekers at their northern and jap borders because the Russian invasion.
Earlier this week, Defence Minister Dincu stated Romania was able to taking in half one million refugees.
Nevertheless, in response to Romanian media reviews, no initiative has but been taken to construct camps for the Ukrainian asylum seekers.
That lack of presidency motion has prompted many Romanians to type one other Fb group, United for Ukraine, the place nearly 50,000 individuals have provided to pay for Ukrainian asylum seekers’ flights or lodge bills, and even present them with locations to sleep.
Ukraine additionally has a sizeable Romanian inhabitants of about 150,000 individuals, a lot of whom are anticipated to return to Romania within the coming days.
‘US will defend each centimetre of NATO’
When US President Joe Biden introduced extra sanctions in opposition to Russia on Thursday night, he additionally dedicated to sending extra troops to Romania, a strategic NATO associate within the area which hosts alliance bases and a key missile defence system.
“If he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) strikes in NATO international locations, we are going to become involved,” stated Biden in his handle, which was extensively reported in Romania.
“The US will defend each centimetre of NATO,” stated Biden.
Within the leadup to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany and France additionally despatched weapons, troops and plane to Romania, which has been staunch in its assist of the transatlantic alliance and its condemnation of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
However in response to international coverage professional Popescu-Zamfir, central and Japanese European international locations have “repeatedly identified the hazard of Russian aggression”.
Popescu-Zamfir believes the Black Sea, which Romania shares with Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey, stays “an especially weak space”.
“Romania, particularly, made efforts after the  NATO summit in Warsaw when extra significance was given to the Baltic international locations and Poland, whereas we didn’t have any contingency plans for the Black Sea,” she informed Al Jazeera.
In the meantime, the Romanian media have been preserving a round the clock watch on the developments in Ukraine, additionally measuring how the invasion might have an effect on their nation.
“I’m hopeful the West will reply to Russia’s aggression with unity,” stated Lăzureanu.
‘Will they invade Moldova?’
Many in Romania are additionally frightened about Moldova, a nation of two.6 million individuals which has sturdy historic and linguistic ties with Romania however is just not part of NATO.
“In some ways, the Republic of Moldova is an extension of Romania,” Popescu-Zamfir informed Al Jazeera.
“Will they invade Moldova as effectively?” requested one of many members of Conflict Room, the Fb web page created by Lăzureanu.
Former Romanian President Traian Basescu even urged the federal government to do a “snap referendum” to unite Moldova and Romania to discourage Russia from advancing into the territories.
Whereas President Iohannis didn’t entertain the concept, he spoke to his Moldovan counterpart Maia Sandu after Russia attacked Ukraine and guaranteed her of assist in case of any Russian aggression.
Within the early twentieth century, Romania and Moldova had been united as the identical nation, however in 1940, Moldova grew to become a republic of the Soviet Union.
The fashionable-day Republic of Moldova, created after the Soviet Union fell in 1991, stays influenced socially and politically by Russia.
Most Moldovans communicate Russian and ethnic Russians dwelling in Moldova splintered off and declared their unbiased republic in Transnistria in 1990.