On February 10, 2023, Russia launched another massive missile attack on the territory of Ukraine. Mostly, enemy shells were aimed at civilian objects and energy infrastructure facilities. During the attack, 12 people were injured.
Russian missiles over Romania?
It became unusual that two Kalibr missiles, which were launched by Russia from the Black Sea, first flew over Moldova, then entered the airspace of Romania (a member of NATO), and then returned to Ukraine again. This information was confirmed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhniy.
Kalibr — is a family of Russian cruise missiles developed by the Novator Design Bureau (OKB-8). It first saw service in 1994. There are ship-launched, submarine-launched, and air-launched versions of the missile, and variants for anti-ship, anti-submarine, and land attack use.
Later, this information was confirmed by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy:
“Several Russian missiles passed through the airspace of Moldova and Romania. These missiles are a challenge to NATO and collective security. This is the terror that can and must be stopped. The world must stop”.
Romanian Defense Ministry confirmed that the country’s air force on Friday recorded «an aerial target, most likely a cruise missile, launched from a Russian ship in the Black Sea«. But its flight over its territory was denied:
«The closest the target’s trajectory came to Romanian airspace was recorded by radar about 35 kilometers northeast of the border».
Instead, Moldova confirmed the flight of a Russian missile over the country and protested Russia’s actions. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the country, Nicolae Popescu, ordered to summon the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Oleg Vasnetsov, to «point out to the Russian side the unacceptable violation of the airspace due to the crossing of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Moldova by a Russian missile».
There is no mention of this incident on the official NATO website.
How did the Romanian mass media express this event?
The publication «adevarul.ro» fully supported and highlighted the point of view of the Ministry of Defense of Romania. It denied the flight of Russian missiles over the territory of the country. It is interesting that they submitted comments from the Ukrainian side regarding this situation, but cut out the information regarding the missiles in Romania. That is, they did not deny the missiles in Moldova, but kept silent about the missiles in their country.
«And according to the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhniy, two Russian «Kalibr» missiles crossed the state border of Ukraine with the Republic of Moldova».
The Romanian television channel «Stirile Pro-TV» did not mention the missiles over the country in its news. Journalists did not provide an official comment from the Ministry of Defense. This material is written on the topic of Zelenskiy’s address regarding Russia’s provocation of NATO countries, but they did not specify that this provocation was in Romania. The publication simply cut out part of the address of the President of Ukraine, which discussed this incident. Example:
“Today, the enemy launched at least 70 rockets in another mass attack. At least 60 missiles were shot down. Their targets were civilians, civilian infrastructure. Unfortunately, there were hits. Unfortunately, we have victims. This is another proof that protecting Ukraine means protecting the whole of Europe. Today’s missiles are a threat to NATO’s collective security”.
How did the Moldovan mass media write about this event?
In Moldova, the situation was divided 50 by 50. Some mass media, such as «Publika», objectively described the situation with comments from the Ukrainian and Romanian sides. Journalists wrote that «missiles allegedly flew over Romania», expressing doubts about Ukrainian information.
Other media, such as «NTV Moldova», also wrote about this incident, adhering to the language of facts. Journalists fully described the missile-related events in Moldova, but did not write a word about Romania.
What did the EU and US media write?
The mass media of the European Union countries have converged in the way of presenting information. They fully described the situation with shelling of Ukrainian territory and briefly described the situation with Romania. A clear example is the publication «Zeit.Online», which briefly wrote that Romania denies the flight of missiles over its country.
The US was bolder in its words. Journalists of “The New York Times” fully described the course of events and mentioned that Ukraine has evidence of Russian missiles. They referred to the comments of Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat.
“There is radar data — there are means of objective control. Undoubtedly, NATO member countries have been watching this situation”.
They also added that NATO does not want to comment on this situation.
So far, news resources cannot say with confidence about the crossing of the Romanian air border by Russian missiles, because of the lack of evidence and the country’s official denial. However, when Ukraine will be able to share relevant data with the world, the situation may change.
Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said that Ukraine is investigating the flights of Russian missiles. He assumed:
“There is radar data, means of objective control, NATO member countries also observed this situation. I think that there will be materials that will confirm this. I think there will be some input from those systems and radars as to where those missiles were spotted. Because this is not the first time that Russia has provoked in this way”.
He reminded that Russian missiles have already crossed the airspace of Moldova at least three times. According to Ignat’s assumption, Russia is purposefully launching missiles at the regions of Ukraine bordering the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance.
By the way, on February 7, 2023, Romania received the second PATRIOT system. Four systems were ordered as part of the joint procurement of Arrow 3 and Patriot air defense systems for 14 countries. Delivery of the third and fourth PATRIOT began during 2022, and testing and delivery is expected by the end of April 2023.
«Equipping the Air Force with PATRIOT systems adds a robust, credible, interoperable, and flexible air defense capability designed to help fulfill the missions of the Romanian Army. The four systems represent the first stage in achieving a state-of-the-art ground-based air defense capability with the ability to defend against tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, fully integrated into the NATO system», — said minister Ankhel Tilvar, quoted in a press release of the Ministry of Defense.
Editor’s Note. Unfortunately, Moldova’s anti-aircraft forces are so limited that they are not able to prevent the missile attack. As we know, from 1992 in Moldova exists an anti-aircraft missile regiment named after Dimitrie Cantemir. But as we know from Military Balance 2022 the total number of all Air Force of Republic of Moldova are only 600 military with three short-range soviet surface-to-air missile system S-125M1 and several towed anti-aircraft guns ZU-23 and S-60. At least one S-125M1 was shown publicly in 2018.
Automatic anti-aircraft gun S-60. It is still in service with dozens of countries around the world, although it entered service more than 70 years ago.
Once, Moldova had its own Air Force. The MIG-29s of various modifications were in service, but in the late 1990s they were sold to the United States. And the remaining six units remained in Moldova for a long time in a non-working condition in the hope of selling them to third countries.