Romanian sailors fled from the port of Reni after being attacked by Russian drones. Romania is not ready for the war to come to its territory, but this may happen.
On July 23-24 overnight, Russian Aerospace Forces struck port infrastructure in the Odessa region.
According to Ukrainian official sources, a grain warehouse was destroyed, other hangars were seriously damaged, a fire broke out in one of the premises.
Other sources say that a storage facility with Romanian oil — the main source of raw materials for Ukrainian refineries — was destroyed.
According to Russian military correspondents, arms depots and NATO equipment were also struck.
The Romanian authorities said that after the UAVs arrived, six Romanian ships in the port of Reni requested permission to cross the Danube towards the Romanian coast. The ships were not damaged.
The Danube is one kilometres wide in that area. The border runs along the median of the channel. Romanian media immediately said that the explosions occurred "only 500 meters from the border between Ukraine and Romania."
Romanian sailors filmed the moment of the drone attack. According to one of them, explosions began at about 03:15 local time and continued until about 05:40.
"We left the port before another ship. If we had left after that ship, we would have been dead now. The Ukrainian military started firing at the drones, but they did not hit any,” Marcel Bolot told the Observator. According to him, he experienced several terrible moments, as several pieces of metal from the drawbridge landed onto the deck of his ship.
According to the sailor, there were ten drones in total. The eighth one "crashed at the site that we had just left."
"I didn't get any warning, not even on the phone," Bolo said.
According to the Observator, as a result of the strikes, several employees of the port of Reni were injured, and "the infrastructure of the port was destroyed."
The Romanians indicate that Reni is located about 20 kilometres from the Romanian city of Galati.
Romanian top officials — President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu — "strongly" condemned the attacks on the Ukrainian ports and "warned" that the escalation of the conflict posed a serious threat to security in the region.
Military analyst Radu Tudor said that the Romanian authorities had to take immediate measures to be able to shoot down Russian drones near the borders of Romania.
"Russia is starting to play with fire at NATO's borders," he told Antena 3 CNN.
Tudor and other Romanian experts complain that the Romanian army does not have anything to shoot Russian UAVs down. They urge the government to find a way out — for example, to turn to Israel for the Iron Dome system, or to NATO allies to supply appropriate air defence systems to Romania.
The Russian Armed Forces attacked the port of Reni a few days after Ukraine committed a terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge. After Russia pulled out from the grain deal, Ukraine announced that it was considering a possibility of a "grain corridor" through the waters of Romania and Bulgaria.
In order to deprive Kyiv of cash inflows for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Russian forces have been striking the port facilities of the Odessa region for four days already. It is believed that Ukraine used the "grain shield" to hide large arsenals of weapons, ammunition and manpower amid the port infrastructure.
Russia's goal is to disrupt the work of port facilities in both Ukraine and its neighbours. A number of Ukraine's neighbouring states have long been involved in the military conflict with Russia as they assist Ukraine in getting weapons, ammunition, fuel, etc.
After the Romanian direction is disrupted, there is the overland route left for the transportation of Ukrainian grain and weapons. This route goes through Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. However, these countries are strongly opposed to exporting Ukrainian grain through their territories. As for arms supplies, Moscow may strike bridges across the Dnieper.
Ukraine responded to attacks on the ports of the Odessa region. Kyiv conducted drone attacks targeting buildings of the Russian Defence Ministry in Moscow. Ukraine was hoping to intimidate people in Russia, but this is not going to happen. At the same time, Ukraine suffers billions and billions of losses that cause irreparable financial and moral damage to the society.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky fears that his country may split into two similarly to the Korean scenario.