Zelensky says partnership with Romania key to ‘stability for Europe and beyond’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met his counterpart in Romania on Tuesday for talks on regional security and to strengthen bilateral ties against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of his country.

He described the partnership between the two countries as key to “stability for Europe and beyond” on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, after meeting President Klaus Iohannis in the capital, Bucharest.

The two discussed security in the Black Sea region, economic co-operation, shared infrastructure projects and Ukraine’s requests for military support, Mr Zelensky told reporters after the meetings.

He also thanked Romania for providing both military and humanitarian support to his country.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Ukrainian president described the Nato and European Union member country as “a friend who came to our help on our darkest day and whose support gets stronger with time”, on X.

In recent weeks, Russia has carried out sustained attacks on Ukraine’s Danube River ports — located just across the river from Romania — as Moscow aims to disrupt Ukraine’s ability to export grain to world markets.

Romania has confirmed drone fragment findings on its territory, the type used by the Russian army near its border with Ukraine.

“In Romania, it is well known how dangerous Russian terrorism is, how dangerous the drones and missiles are that attack the villages near the Romanian border,” Mr Zelensky said.

“Ukrainian pilots will be trained in Romania and I discussed this with the Romanian president. We discussed our military requests.”

Romania Ukraine Zelenskyy
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis pose with a joint statement signed before a press conference at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace in Bucharest, Romania (Andreea Alexandru/AP/PA)

For his part, Mr Iohannis said Romania is “focused on helping Ukraine win the war” against Russia and that supporting Ukraine is in his country’s strategic interest.

“Strengthening Ukraine’s security means strengthening Romania’s security,” he said.

Ukraine and Romania signed an agreement in August to try to boost Kyiv’s grain exports through Romania after Russia withdrew from a wartime agreement a month earlier that ensured safe passage through the Black Sea.

Romania’s Black Sea port of Constanta has become a key transport route for the wartorn nation’s grain amid the war.

Ukraine is a major global supplier of wheat, barley, corn and vegetable oil and has struggled since Russia’s invasion to get its food products to parts of the world in need. After Russia blocked the grain’s Black Sea passage, that left more expensive overland routes through Europe as the main path for Ukraine’s exports.

The Ukrainian president’s trip to Romania is his first official visit since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last year. In the wake of the invasion, millions of Ukrainian refugees fled to Romania before moving on to other countries.

Around 85,000 Ukrainian refugees are currently registered in Romania, under the EU’s temporary protection scheme.

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