NATO battle group in Romania | Financial aid for Romanians hosting Ukrainians | Suceava humanitarian hub receives French aid convoys | Earth Hour marked in the country

As the war in Ukraine entered the second month, the Romanian government passed an ordinance providing financial assistance to people hosting Ukrainian refugees and France sent two aid convoys to Ukraine via the humanitarian center set up in Suceava, in the northeast of Romania. At the same time, it was confirmed that Romania would host a NATO battlegroup as the alliance moved to strengthen its eastern flank. More highlights from the week of March 21-27 in photos below.

Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war continued to arrive in the country, adding to the 562,942 refugees who have entered Romania since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, according to March 27 data from the police of the borders. Most of them are just transiting through the country en route to other destinations in Western Europe, with around 80,000 Ukrainian citizens choosing to remain in Romania by March 21.

To support those who have hosted or are hosting refugees from Ukraine, the Romanian government last week approved a package of financial aid. For each person accommodated, people will be able to receive RON 20 per day for food costs and RON 50 per day for accommodation. Hotels and other accommodation establishments have also been included in this program.

The money will be given to “individuals, volunteers, Romanians who, without necessarily waiting for a decision from the authorities, rushed from day one to open their doors, welcome Ukrainian neighbors and friends, into their homes”, said government spokesman Dan Cărbunaru. Explain.

The French aid convoy in Suceava. Photo: French Embassy in Romania on Facebook

The EU civil protection hub based in Suceava, in northeastern Romania, which manages direct aid to Ukraine, received two French aid convoys this weekend. A total of 50 intervention vehicles, 21 ambulances and 49 tons of equipment were delivered to the Ukrainian side. The operation, France’s first contribution to the humanitarian sector, was organized by the Department of Civil Security and Crisis Management of the Ministry of the Interior and the Crisis and Relief Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Photo: Inquam Photos/Adriana Neagoe

Meanwhile, Bucharest has joined other European cities in protesting against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The “December 21, 1989” Association organized a demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy in Bucharest on Sunday, March 27, with the participation of Ukrainian refugees.

Focusing on the situation in Ukraine, NATO and EU leaders held a series of meetings in Brussels last week, joined by US President Joe Biden.

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President Iohannis, President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels. Photo: Presidency.ro

For Romania, these meetings meant confirmation that the country would host a NATO battlegroup. Overall, NATO allies have agreed to reinforce the alliance’s eastern flank with four additional battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, the alliance announced at its meeting on 24 March in Brussels. He will also send additional support to Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion.

“We are taking all measures and decisions to ensure the security and defense of all allies in all areas and with a 360-degree approach. Our measures remain preventive, proportionate and without escalation. We will now accelerate the transformation of the NATO for a more dangerous world strategic reality, including through the adoption of the next Strategic Concept in Madrid,” said declaration of NATO Heads of State and Government reads.

Leaders have instructed military commanders to work on plans, and final operational details are expected to be decided at the next NATO summit, to be held in Madrid in June.

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President Iohannis and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Photo: Presidency.ro

While in Brussels, President Klaus Iohannis met German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The two men discussed the cooperation of the two countries in the field of energy, Romania’s entry into the Schengen area, the security situation in the region and aid to Ukrainian refugees.

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Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and Klaus Iohannis. Photo: Presidency.ro

Iohannis also met Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, the two men discussing cooperation on the security situation in the region, aid for Ukrainian refugees, economic and energy cooperation between Romania and Bulgaria and the acceleration of interconnectivity between the two countries.

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Meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Bucharest. Photo: Presidency.ro

Before leaving for Brussels, President Iohannis met Polish President Andrzej Duda in Bucharest, where the Polish President argued that NATO should adapt its strategy to the security crisis generated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On this occasion, President Iohannis announced that Romania would host a meeting of NATO members in the region in the already established B9 (Bucharest 9) format, before the alliance summit in July.

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Cotroceni Palace for Earth Hour. Photo: Presidency.ro

Earth Hour, the popular movement for the environment, was also marked in Romania, with several institutions turning off their lights on March 26. Among them was the seat of the Romanian Presidency, Cotroceni Palace, which cut the electricity for the event.

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A previous edition of the Open Streets event. Photo: Nicusor Dan Facebook Page

Separately, Bucharest City Hall has announced that it will organize a new edition of the “Open Streets” event between April 30 and October 16, transforming several boulevards and streets into pedestrian zones over the weekend. The project will be extended this year to cover all districts of the capital, explained Mayor Nicușor Dan. The event will therefore not only include the main arteries of the city center such as Calea Victoriei, but also the streets of each of the six districts of the capital.

(Opening photo: Facebook page of the French Embassy in Romania)

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