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Romania–Russia relations


Romania–Russia relations

Romania–Russia relations
Map indicating locations of Romania and Russia


Embassy of Romania in Moscow
Lipovans (Russian Old Believers) during a ceremony in front of their church in the Romanian village

Romania–Russia relations are the foreign relations between Romania and Russia. Romania has an embassy in Moscow and consulates-general in Rostov-on-Don and Saint Petersburg. Russia has an embassy in Bucharest and a consulate-general in Constanţa. Historical relations have oscillated between grudging cooperation, neutrality and open hatred and hostility.

Both countries refused to Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

In 1992 and 1993, relations between the two were especially strained when they backed opposite sides in the Transnistria conflict. Romania is part of NATO, which Russia views in a highly negative light. Debates over the status of Transnistria maintain antagonism between Romanians and Russians. Furthermore, according to The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers, 1804-1999 by Misha Glenny, dislike of Russia and Russians is deeply integrated into Romanian culture since the end of the 19th century due to chronic quarrels between the two countries, and has been for most of the modern era. Many Russians have negative views of Romanians as well.


  • History 1
    • 18th and early 19th centuries 1.1
    • 1848 to 1853 1.2
    • 1853 to World War I 1.3
    • World War I 1.4
    • World War I to World War II 1.5
    • World War II 1.6
    • Communist period (1945-1990) 1.7
    • Romanian relations with the Russian Federation 1.8
  • Dispute over the Romanian treasure 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


18th and early 19th centuries

Russian-Romanian relations were generally cordial until the end of the 19th century when Russia was helping Romania free itself of Ottoman domination.

Russia's role as a spiritual "guardian" for the Ottomon Empire's Orthodox Christian subjects was affirmed in the 1774 Treaty of Kuchuk Kainardji, and Russia soon after gained a border with the Ottomon Empire right next to the Romanian principalities.[1] The "Danubian Principalities" (Wallachia and Moldavia) were then semi-autonomous, ruled by Greek Phanariot hospodars, whom the Romanians (both the boyars and the peasantry) widely resented. The hospodars were overthrown by a Romanian revolution led by Vladimirescu (a former Russian army soldier). A Romanian oligarchy replaced the Greek Phanariot one, but faced with the threat of peasant unrest, the new Romanian proto-state actually welcomed the return of Ottomon rule.[2] However, Romania was flooded with French literary works transmitting Enlightenment ideas, an to the similarity of Romanian and French, these had a much faster effect on Romania than other areas.[2] Hence, from a very early time, there was competition between France and Russia for Romania's affinities, even though Russia was the only one of the two to have any real immediate significance to Romania.

Romania's independence from the Ottoman Empire was achieved mainly with Russian assistance, although during the Russo-Turkish War in 1877 it was the Russians that requested military assistance from Romania, after suffering heavy losses in Bulgaria.[3]

From very early on, however, Romanian economic competition with Russia throttled good relations. Romania is a natural economic rival of Russia (on the eve of World War II, in fact, it was the world's fourth largest food exporter, after Russia, Canada and the US):[4] if managed properly, it is a breadbasket, and also had a large supply of oil at the time. Russia moved to try to make Romania a pliant satellite. Romanian boyars were thus forced to sign the Organic Declarations by Russia.[2] Balkans expert Misha Glenny explains Russia's historical attitude towards Romania as such:

...Russia saw wheat cultivation in Romania as a threat to its own harvests in southern Russia, much of it sold on to Britain and France. If the Principalities were able to modernize the port facilities on the Danube and the Black Sea, they could begin to undercut the price of Russian wheat on world markets. To throttle this competition, Russia exploited its position as protector of the Principalities by allowing the mouth of the Danube to silt up. Russia's interest in the Principalities was essentially strategic. St. Petersburg wanted a pliant satellite, not an economic competitor.

1848 to 1853

Russia's actions caused a multiplication of anti-Russian sentiment throughout the Principalities, for each group having a different reason. The urban elite (the later Liberals) were frustrated by Russia's opposition to reform in Romania; while landowning boyars (the later Conservatives) were frustrated by Russia's impediments on the economy.[2] These feelings provided the basis for the modern anti-Russian sentiment in Romania.

In 1848, Romanians for the first time revolted against Russia, and the Russian flag and the Organic Declarations were burned in public.[2] Romania in fact wooed the Porte, which had to be "persuaded" by Russia not to aid the Romanians.

In July 1853, Russia invaded and occupied Romania.[2] Russian occupation was harsh and all political organizations were suppressed. When the Porte declared war on Russia in October of that year, Romanians hoped desperately that Russia would be driven from their country (ironically by the country which they had just recently separated from). This wish was granted by the coalition of both Turkey and Austria against Russia.

1853 to World War I

World War I

World War I to World War II

World War II

Communist period (1945-1990)

After coming under communist control in 1948, Romania was closely aligned with the international policies and goals of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But after mid-1952, when Gheorghiu-Dej had gained full control of the party and had become head of state, Romania began a slow disengagement from Soviet domination, being careful not to incur the suspicions or disapproval of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Soviet troops retreated from Romania in 1958, no Warsaw Pact troops were allowed on Romanian territory after 1962, and Romanian forces essentially quit participating in joint Warsaw Pact field exercises in the late 1960s. At the same time, Ceausescu announced that Romania would no longer put its military forces under the Warsaw Pact's joint command, even during peacetime maneuvers.

In 1976 Ceausescu received Leonid Brezhnev in Bucharest—the first official visit by a Soviet leader since 1955. The final communique of the meeting reflected continuing disagreements between the two countries, as Romania refused to side with the Soviets in their dispute with China. In 1978, after visiting China, Ceausescu attended a Warsaw Pact summit meeting in Moscow, where he rejected a Soviet proposal that member countries increase their military expenditures. On his return to Bucharest, Ceausescu explained the refusal by stating that any increase in military expenditure was contrary to the socialist countries' effort to reduce military tensions in Europe.[6]

Perhaps because of Ceausescu's uncooperative attitude, a 1980 Romanian attempt to secure supplies of energy and raw materials from the Soviet Union and other Comecon countries failed when those countries demanded world market prices and payment in hard currency. Nor would the Soviet Union guarantee that it would increase or even maintain existing levels of oil exports to Romania for the following year.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan caused Romania to distance itself further from Brezhnev. When the UN General Assembly voted on a resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Soviet troops, Romania broke with its Warsaw Pact allies and abstained. And one month later, at a meeting of communist states in Sofia, Romania joined the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) in refusing to endorse the invasion.[6]

During Yuri Andropov's brief tenure as Soviet leader, relations remained frigid. The wording of the communique following a meeting with Ceausescu in Moscow suggested that Andropov intended to pressure Romania to bring its foreign policy into line with the Warsaw Pact. The Romanian leadership appeared to suspect Andropov of pro-Hungarian sympathies because of his close personal friendship with First Secretary János Kádár of Hungary. Romanian disagreements with the Soviet position on intermediate nuclear forces in Europe also surfaced during the Andropov period.

Romanian relations with the Russian Federation

Romania's foreign policy after 1990 was built exclusively on geo-strategic reasons and less on economic relations, which has led to minimal relations with Russia. Romania to officially declare, in 1993, its desire to join NATO and EU to consolidate its precarious national security. In an effort to reassure its former ally, Romania and Russia signed a treaty concerning bilateral military cooperation in 1994 and agreed to continue negotiations on the signing of the bilateral treaty on good-neighborly relations. Despite these efforts, bilateral relations quickly deteriorated. In April 1996, the Romanian-Russian relationship experienced one of its tensest moments, as the Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin flew to Bucharest at the invitation of Romanian authorities to sign a renegotiated version of the bilateral good-neighborly relations treaty. As the Russian PM’s plane touched down in Bucharest, the newly elected Romanian president, Emil Constantinescu announced that Romania would refuse to sign the treaty, because it failed to address two of the most enduring bilateral disputes between the two countries: Romania decried the treaty’s lack of clauses that condemned the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (1939) and that would establish a clear roadmap for the return of Romania’s National Treasure stored in Moscow. Russia furiously denounced Romanian intentions as hostile and driven by irredentist inclinations towards territories within the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, to which Moscow considered Romania might lay claim. Also, Russia complained that Romania refused to include a provision that would commit the two parties not to join alliances that are targeted against the other. Following this episode, all bilateral diplomatic visits were canceled. It was only in 1999 that Bucharest said it was ready to reconsider its relations with Moscow, both at political and economic level. By the mid-2000s, a third window of opportunity to normalize relations opened as a result of the 2000 Romanian general elections, which saw the Social-Democrat Party, erroneously considered to be closer to Moscow than other Romanian political parties, return to power. Eventually, in 2003, the bilateral treaty on good-neighborly relations was signed, but without addressing any of the contentious issues between the two parties: the condemnation of the Ribbentrop–Molotov Pact, the return of Romania’s national treasury, and the provision concerning the parties’ commitment not to participate in that are targeted against the other.

A series of high-level contacts culminated with a visit of President Traian Basescu to Moscow in 2005, but his statements at the time, of overcoming historical prejudice of the previous 15 years, did not take shape as the relations continued to freeze.

A main source of tension now is the status of Moldova. The conflict over Moldova, or Bessarabia, is not new. It has been ongoing between Romania and Russia for over a century, due to Russia's strategic interests in the region conflicting with Romania's goal of a unified pan-Romanian state. Bessarabia, now known to most of the world as Moldova, was originally a region within Moldavia; Romania was forced to hand it over to Russia at the 1870s Congress of Berlin. It was briefly regained, then retaken by the Soviet Union after World War II. Romanians may view Moldova as being "stolen" by Russia. Romania regained the territory at the end of World War I, only to lose it again at the end of World War II. At the time of the fall of the Soviet Union, the Romanian language (under the controversial name of the "Moldovan language") with a Latin script was mandated as the official language of Moldova, causing conflict with non Romanian-speaking regions (namely, Gagauzia and Transnistria). However, Moldova opted against rejoining Romania at the time, claiming that it had a separate national identity (see: Moldova–Romania relations; movement for the unification of Romania and Moldova). Romanians may view Moldovans as being victims of forced Russification and brainwashing.

Most recently, on 10 February 2015, Vladimir Evseev, the director of Moscow's Center for Political and Military Studies, has warned that if Romania allows itself to be involved in the confrontation between Russia and NATO, "it is impossible not to put various military bases in Romania on the list of targets to be neutralized with various kinds of weapons." He says that "Russia is terribly worried that cruise missiles may be launched [from military bases about to be built in Romania] as well".[7][8] Romania's president Klaus Iohannis responded to this by approving the temporary deployment of up to 250 U.S. soldiers at a military base in the east of the country. He has also approved a request from the U.S. to use Romania's largest airport in Otopeni as an alternative for transport operations.[9][10]

Dispute over the Romanian treasure

After the fall of the USSR, the Russian governments' position toward the Romanian Treasure remained the same and various negotiations failed. The Romanian-Russian treaty of 2003 did not mention the Treasure; presidents Ion Iliescu and Vladimir Putin decided to create a commission to analyze this problem, but no advances were made.

See also


  1. ^ Glenny, Misha. The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers; 1804-1999. Page 15
  2. ^ a b c d e f Glenny, Misha. The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers. Pages 57-69
  3. ^ "Reminiscences of the King of Roumania", ed. Harper&Brothers 1899, pp. 275
  4. ^ Glenny, Misha. The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers. Page 61
  5. ^ Glenny, Misha. The Balkans. Page 61-2
  6. ^ a b Country data- Romania
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^

External links

  • Romanian embassy in Moscow (in Romanian)
  • Russian embassy in Bucharest
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