[Entrevue] “They are like our brothers and sisters”: a Romanian look at Ukraine

Leaders announced the deployment of four new combat units in Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, a measure requested by Romania since 2014, notes Elena Enachejournalist for the English section of Radio Romania International (RRI).

2014 pour consolider le front oriental et le contexte actuel en Ukraine n’a fait qu’accélérer ce processus.”,”text”:”C’est une demande que la Roumanie fait depuis2014 pour consolider le front oriental et le contexte actuel en Ukraine n’a fait qu’accélérer ce processus.”}}”>This is a request that Romania has been making since 2014 to combine the eastern front and the current context in Ukraine has only accelerated this process.

He agreed to speak to Radio Canada International (RCI) to provide insight into the long-standing relationship between Romania and Ukraine and explain how the Romanians responded to the Russian aggression.

With more than 600 kilometers of the common border with Ukraine, Romania is on the front line of the war. However, when asked if Romanians felt threatened by Russia’s aggression on their neighbor, Ms Enache explained that this was not the case because, OTAN, la Roumanie se sent en sécurité et protégée”,”text”:”en tant que membre de l’OTAN, la Roumanie se sent en sécurité et protégée”}}”>as a member ofNorth Atlantic Treaty OrganizationRomania feels safe and protected.

We don’t feel threatened.

A quote from Elena Enache, journalist at Radio România International

US President Joe Biden shook hands with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during the NATO summit focusing on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the NATO Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on March 24, 2022.

Photo: Reuters / GONZALO FUENTES

Romania joins theNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004, and the military alliance recently gained significant popular support there, with 70% of the population supporting it in early March, according to Alex Diaconescu, a journalist in the French section of the RRI.

Since the war began, the United States has sent thousands of additional troops to the Old Continent, essentially reassuring the countries of Eastern Europe. France has also deployed additional troops to Romania and is helping to strengthen airspace surveillance, specifically in Poland.

Despite recent announcements fromNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis stressed on Thursday that further steps are still needed to consolidate the Alliance’s permanent presence in the region. On Tuesday, he also met his Polish counterpart and both agreed to intensify their security cooperation.

The French Minister salutes the French soldiers standing in the ranks.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly (L) spoke with French soldiers during a visit to the “Mihail Kogalniceanu” air base on March 6, 2022.-The deployment of NATO troops should allow allies to show “unshakable solidarity” after Russia invades Ukraine, French Defense Minister Florence Parly told Romania.

Photo: dpa by getty images / DANIEL MIHAILESCU

A common story

Ukraine and Romania have always been very close, explains Elena Enache. Some parts of Romania were first annexed by the Soviet Union and when Ukraine was annexed to the Soviet Union, these areas became part of it.

Today, Romanians represent an important community in Ukraine and vice versa. Neither country feels resentmentstressed the journalist, however, who went on to explain that the rights of the Ukrainian community are very well represented in Romania, with representation in Parliament, very active associations and Ukrainian language education provided in 45 schools, 10 high schools and three universities.

So when the Romanians witnessed Russia’s invasion of their longtime neighbor, it was a big shock for them, he added.

Anger, anger, fear for the Ukrainian people, this is how Romania feels right now.

A quote from Elena Enache, journalist
Military officers parked a convertible car.

File photo of a parade during the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, Romania.

Photo: ANRM, Fototeca, 24945

Russia’s intervention has also brought back some ghosts of the past to this former Soviet country. Between 1944 and 1958, Soviet troops occupied Romania, and the country was part of the Soviet bloc until its collapse in 1989. Among other things, many reports revealed that the Soviet military had made war crimes in Romania or against the Romanians as it occupied their territory.

It is impossible not to remember those dark times like that. It is impossible not to remember what it felt like to live in a communist country that was within the influence of Russia.said Ms. Enache. Not to mention the unrest and grief caused by the Soviet occupation of the Romanian regions of Bukovina and northern Bessarabia.

This is exactly why Romanians understand better than others what Russia’s occupation means for Ukraine.

We consider them brothers and sisters

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than 3.6 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022.

While Poland has the most hosts, Romania, Ukraine’s southern neighbor, comes in second. According to Reuters, more than 500,000 Ukrainians have already fled Romania. Most have already moved west, but less than 80,000 remain, mostly women with young children.

Refugees getting off a ferry.

Every day, thousands of refugees take the ferry to cross the Danube, the natural border between Ukraine and Romania.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Raphaël Bouvier-Auclair.

Romania has shown impressive support for refugees since the first day of the invasionexplained Elena Enache.

Romania’s central and local authorities have already allocated substantial funds to provide refugees with shelter, food and medicine, the journalist added. Regarding health care, people fleeing the war now have access to free medical care in public and private establishments in Romania.

The country is also working with the European Union to create an international humanitarian aid center, which will collect and take all donations to Ukraine.

A man in uniform is handing out bags of groceries.

An employee of the Emergency Mobile Service for Resuscitation and Evacuation, SMURD, distributes food bags to refugees fleeing the fighting from neighboring Ukraine, on the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, on February 27, 2022.

Photo: AP/Andreea Alexandru

Equally impressive is how ordinary citizens received Ukrainian refugees.said Enache. Ordinary citizens of Romania have had shocking reactions to the destruction and influx of refugees.

Many have traveled to the border to help refugees in any way possible. Some offer goods, others only offer their services, such as translators or lawyers. Hostels, hotels, churches, restaurants, transportation companies, all offer to help them for free, the journalist explained.

Important Romanian communities living abroad have also chosen to help by providing access to their second home, for example, or by sending money.

As far as Romanians are concerned, we will do everything we can to help the Ukrainian citizens. We treat them as our brothers and sisters.

A quote from Elena Enache, journalist
Volunteers sift through piles of clothing donations into a ballroom that has been turned into a temporary shelter for refugees.

Romanians have made large donations to help Ukrainian refugees, such as this 4-star hotel in Suceava, about 50 kilometers from the border, which has been turned into a refuge for people fleeing the fighting in Ukraine.

Photo: Associated Press/Andrea Alexandru

Elena Enache has heard many incredible stories in her reporting, including these two children who crossed the border accompanied by a complete stranger.

Their mother was working in Italy when the war began. She went to the Romanian border, to Sziget, in the North, to pick up her children. The father had to stay in Ukraine and asked a Ukrainian woman he had never met before to help his children cross the border using only one phone number. The emotional reunion of the couple was broadcast in all media.

The journalist is also marked with a good lesson in unity from a pensioner who traveled to the border to greet refugees and directly distributed his pension money to Ukrainian children.

That’s what some of us do sometimesending with emotion Elena Enache.

Radio Romania International (new window) is the international branch of the Romanian public media. It works in thirteen languages, including Ukrainian.

Radio România International is one of the few stations in the world that has a Ukrainian section. It issued short newsletters for refugees to let them know how to get help.

These news bulletins are re -broadcast by all regional stations near the border. Their mandate will reflect the position of the Romanian authorities, the evolution of the situation in Ukraine and the way of supporting Ukrainian refugees in Romania.

This article was written as part of a collaboration between Radio Canada International and Radio Romania International (new window).

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