On Thursday, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis condemned Russian aggression and emphasized the need for a united international community.
While addressing the audience at the World Leader’s Forum event on Thursday, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis highlighted that Romania is the NATO member state that shares the longest border with Ukraine. This unique situation makes the country’s perspective on the war particularly relevant.
President Iohannis strongly condemned Russian aggression and cautioned against an international community that allows Russian behavior to continue unchecked. Russia, he said, attacks democratic values and international order. He noted that “it is our collective responsibility to oppose these actions.” That opposition matters: President Iohannis declared that when Russia invaded, it “expected a weak international community and a compliant Ukraine.” The fact that it has found neither has meant that the war has dragged on.
Romania, he claims, has repeatedly warned against Russia’s significant and dangerous military buildup. President Iohannis also noted that Russia has shown that when it says it wants to negotiate, “it wants to buy time to prepare for its next aggression.” As such, President Iohannis believes that another Minsk-style agreement would stand only to benefit Russia.
Although President Iohannis was clear about the hazards presented by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he was also clear about his belief that Romania is safer now than it has ever been. Not only has NATO taken historic measures to reinforce its Eastern flank, but Romania has also taken measures to reduce its energy dependence on Russia.
President Iohannis’ confidence in the security of Romania comes as Russian drone fragments have recently been found on Romanian soil. He condemned these actions for both violating Romanian sovereignty and for the fact that the drones were likely targeting Ukrainian grain shipments—meaning they were targeting civilians, rather than military targets, making it a war crime. Although Romania is not being directly attacked, President Iohannis made it clear that he sees it as a very serious issue.
Until Ukraine has its independence and its full territory restored, there will be no peace, stated President Iohannis. He argues that the way out of war and into peace will be a new test for the international community. We cannot afford to be weak or divided for “Russia understands only one language: power.”
President of Romania and Panelist via Columbia University