Cluj-Napoca, Romania – “I guarantee you, no Romanian ought to concern for the protection of himself and his household,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis mentioned on Thursday, shortly after Russian troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine – its greatest navy deployment since World Struggle II.
“Romania enjoys the widest potential 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,” mentioned the Romanian chief.
In a TV deal with the identical night, Defence Minister Vasile Dancu mentioned Romanians “will not be in peril” and that they shouldn’t be anxious 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 could 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 concern 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 help” 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 scholar Valentin Lăzureanu woke as much as a cascade of notifications on his telephone saying the Russian assault.
“When the information and photos began coming in, I realised we didn’t have a devoted house for it and everybody was getting their data from so many scattered sources,” the 24-year-old informed Al Jazeera.
Lăzureanu created a Fb group the place individuals may share sources and confirm data to assist one another perceive what was occurring throughout the border.
Since then, younger Romanians within the group – known as Struggle Room – have been discussing potential situations that would even engulf their nation.
“How probably is it that they’d invade Romania as properly?” 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 state of affairs,” mentioned Popescu-Zamfir. “This impacts Romania economically as a result of your entire area is perceived by traders as having a better threat of funding.”
Popescu-Zamfir additionally famous that Romania, like a lot of Europe, relies on Russian gasoline. The battle may 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 mentioned Romania was able to taking in half one million refugees.
Nevertheless, based on Romanian media experiences, no initiative has but been taken to construct camps for the Ukrainian asylum seekers.
That lack of presidency motion has prompted many Romanians to kind one other Fb group, United for Ukraine, the place nearly 50,000 individuals have supplied to pay for Ukrainian asylum seekers’ flights or resort 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 accomplice within the area which hosts alliance bases and a key missile defence system.
“If he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) strikes in NATO nations, we are going to get entangled,” mentioned Biden in his deal with, which was extensively reported in Romania.
“The US will defend each centimetre of NATO,” mentioned 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 help of the transatlantic alliance and its condemnation of Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
However based on international coverage skilled Popescu-Zamfir, central and Japanese European nations have “repeatedly identified the hazard of Russian aggression”.
Popescu-Zamfir believes the Black Sea, which Romania shares with Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey, stays “a particularly weak space”.
“Romania, particularly, made efforts after the  NATO summit in Warsaw when extra significance was given to the Baltic nations 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 conserving a round the clock watch on the developments in Ukraine, additionally measuring how the invasion may have an effect on their nation.
“I’m hopeful the West will reply to Russia’s aggression with unity,” mentioned Lăzureanu.
‘Will they invade Moldova?’
Many in Romania are additionally anxious about Moldova, a nation of two.6 million individuals which has sturdy historic and linguistic ties with Romania however shouldn’t be 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 properly?” requested one of many members of Struggle 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 help in case of any Russian aggression.
Within the early twentieth century, Romania and Moldova have been united as the identical nation, however in 1940, Moldova turned 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 converse Russian and ethnic Russians residing in Moldova splintered off and declared their unbiased republic in Transnistria in 1990.