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Blinken, Romanian minister discuss drone debris found in Romania near Ukraine border

Presumed crash site of a Russian army drone showing charred tree trunks and a blast area in Romania

By Jasper Ward and Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Romanian Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu on Thursday held a call to discuss Romania's investigation into drone debris found in Romania close to its border with Ukraine, the U.S. State Department said.

Parts of what could be a Russian drone fell on Romanian territory, Romanian Defense Minister Angel Tilvar said on Wednesday, two days after Ukraine said Russian drones had detonated on the NATO member's land. Romanian officials had earlier denied reports of drones crashing on Romanian soil and said Russian attacks in neighboring Ukraine did not pose a direct threat.

NATO has a collective defense commitment under which the military alliance considers an attack on one ally to be an attack on all allies.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that NATO did not have any information indicating an intentional attack by Russia, while stressing the risks Russian air strikes in such close vicinity to the alliance's territory posed.

Russia has carried out long-range air strikes on targets in Ukraine since it invaded its neighbor last year, and Kyiv has reported suspected Russian weapons flying over or crashing into neighboring countries several times.

In the most serious incident, a missile that fell near the border killed two people in Poland last November; Poland and NATO allies later said it was a misfired Ukrainian air defense missile.

Blinken and Odobescu also discussed additional cooperation to preserve airspace security, including an upcoming rotation of additional U.S. F-16 fighter jets to bolster NATO's air policing mission in Romania, the State Department said.

Romania's defense ministry said on Thursday that the country did not face any direct threat to its territory or territorial waters from Russian strikes on Ukraine on Wednesday night.

(Reporting by Jasper Ward and Kanishka Singh; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Josie Kao)