Romanian defense minister resigns after Ukraine comments
Romania’s minister of defense, Vasile Dincu, handed in his resignation on Monday after incurring a backlash for publicly suggesting that Ukraine may have to give up some territory in order to end the ongoing military conflict with Russia.
Dincu announced he would be stepping down on his Facebook page, stating that he believes it would be impossible for him to collaborate with President Klaus Iohannis, who had offered a strong rebuke to his call for peace talks between Moscow and Kiev.
“I consider it necessary to withdraw from this position in order not to prejudice in any way the decision-making processes and programs that require fluidity along the entire chain of command,” Dincu wrote, adding that he is grateful to Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca and vowed to support the PM’s future initiatives as a senator, a position that he will retain, in the Romanian parliament.
During a televised interview earlier this month, Dincu called for “international negotiation” of a peace deal between Kiev and Moscow that would involve “the countries of the world, NATO and the United States.”
He explained that the Ukrainian government is unable to open talks on its own since its political leaders “cannot afford to assume the loss of territories,” which would be “political suicide” for Kiev.
He noted that Russia possessed “everything necessary to carry on hostilities” and insisted that it would be “ideal” to reach the stage of negotiations as soon as possible, noting that “even if it ends in a frozen conflict, negotiations would still bring more benefits than what is happening now, the destruction of human lives, material values.”
His comments elicited outrage from Romania’s ruling governing coalition and President Iohannis, who stressed that only Ukraine has the right to decide when and with whom to negotiate.
Kiev responded to the defense minister’s suggestion by stating that Ukraine was willing to negotiate with Western countries on only one topic – the country’s accession to NATO. “Russia is redundant in these negotiations,” said the head of Ukraine’s ruling party, David Arakhamia.
Meanwhile, some 4,700 American soldiers from the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division – considered to be one of Washington’s most elite fighting units – have been deployed to Romania near the Ukrainian border to conduct war games simulating an armed conflict with Russia. According to CBS News reporting from the site, the unit is prepared to enter Ukraine “if ordered to do so,” should the fighting between Moscow and Kiev escalate and if “NATO partners are under threat.”