Ukraine's Zelenskyy visits neighboring Romania to discuss security and boost ties

By Isaac M October 10, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to neighboring Romania on Tuesday for talks with his counterpart on regional security and strengthening bilateral ties against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of his country.

Zelenskyy met with President Klaus Iohannis in the capital, Bucharest. The two are also expected to discuss security cooperation in the Black Sea region, Zelenskyy said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

After he arrived in Romania, Zelenskyy 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.”

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.

Ukraine and Romania signed an agreement in August to try and 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 war-torn nation’s grain amid the war.

“Ukraine is grateful for Romania’s support, which strengthens our state, as well as its constructive solidarity, which enables our nations to be security donors for the world, notably in food security,” Zelenskyy said on Tuesday.

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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McGrath reported from Sighisoara, Romania.

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