Two horses, two pigs, two cows, two calves, three dogs and twenty-five chickens. “Although the chickens, I’m not sure I’ll be able to chase them. » This is the list of animals that Gheorghe Puflea, 70, plans to first have to shelter before going to take refuge himself in an anti-aircraft bunker “six minutes away on foot”, he said. one day he had to urgently evacuate his modest farm located on the Romanian shore of an arm of the Danube delta which marks the border with Ukraine, in the far north-east of this country of 19 million inhabitants.
From the end of its garden, located on the Romanian side, we have a breathtaking view of the intense activity that agitates the Ukrainian port of Izmaïl, on the other side of the river, less than 200 meters away. Having become strategic for Ukrainian wheat, the complex has been regularly attacked by drones since the suspension by the Russians, in July, of the grain agreement which previously allowed the export of Ukrainian grain via Turkey, despite the war. Two windows of one of the lean-tos on Mr. Puflea’s farm also exploded during the bombings that occurred on August 2 on Ukrainian territory.
Gheorghe Puflea with his horse, in Plauru, Romania, September 19, 2023. ANDREEA CAMPEANU FOR “THE WORLD” A recently built air raid shelter in Plauru, Romania, September 19, 2023. ANDREEA CAMPEANU FOR “THE WORLD”
With a placid air, the former shipyard worker in Tulcea, the Romanian “capital” of the Danube delta with its 65,000 inhabitants, nevertheless claims to have “become accustomed” to the sounds of explosions. Clear out ? “I don’t want to leave my animals alone and I am quite convinced that the army will do its job and protect me,” he says, while, since the beginning of September, Russian strikes have taken on a new dimension.
Between September 5 and 13, the Romanian authorities successively discovered the remains of three drones “similar to those used by the Russian army” which had fallen on their territory. Two in Plauru, Mr. Puflea’s village of around ten souls, and another in Nufaru, more than 15 kilometers south of the border. On Monday, September 18, neighboring Bulgaria, in turn, announced that it had discovered and destroyed the remains of a drone “linked to the conflict in Ukraine” on the shores of the Black Sea, without specifying its exact origin.
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“A question of time”
If the Romanian army still claims to be investigating, there is little doubt that the three devices were Shaheds fired from occupied Crimea. These are the first Russian weapons to have struck NATO territory since the start of the conflict in February 2022. In November, two people died in Poland following the explosion of a missile on the wrong side of the border, but NATO quickly asserted that they were “probably” Ukrainian defense weapons.
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