Driver dies after ramming car into gates of Russian embassy in Romania

Car burst into flames after hitting barrier outside compound

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A driver has died after crashing a car into the gates of the Russian Embassy in Bucharest, Romania in the early hours of Wednesday, local police said.

The sedan rammed into the gate at 6am (4am UK time) before bursting into flames. The vehicle did not manage to reach the compound where diplomatic staff were stationed.

Video of the aftermath showed the car engulfed in fire as security personnel ran through the area.

Firefighters were able to put out the flames but the driver died at the scene, police said.

There was no immediate information on a motive.

Bogdan Staicu, the prosecutor who arrived at the scene, told reporters that several containers with flammable substances were discovered inside the vehicle, which will be examined by forensics experts. The incident was on Wednesday under investigation and a postmortem will be carried out, Mr Staicu said.

The Russian embassy expressed condolences to the family of the driver.

“We must state with regret that whatever the motives of the driver, there is no doubt that he committed this act under the influence of an explosion of anti-Russian hysteria in connection with a staged provocation in the city of Bucha,” it said.

The embassy said no employees were injured.

Moscow’s ambassador to Romania Valery Kuzmin told Russian state-owned TV channel Tass that the embassy in Bucharest has received numerous threats by email. “The atmosphere that has been gradually forming here is very tense,” he said.

The car that crashed into the Russian embassy in Bucharest on Wednesday is lifted on to a lorry to be taken away from the scene. AP

Romania, which shares a long land border with Ukraine, has taken in more than 600,000 refugees since Russia invaded its neighbour.

Since the war broke out on February 24, protesters have gathered outside the embassy in the Romanian capital to call for an end to Russian aggression.

On Tuesday, Romania expelled 10 diplomats from the embassy, part of a string of expulsions of Russian officials across the 27-nation European Union.

Romania’s Foreign Ministry said the actions of 10 embassy workers, who have been declared persona non grata, “contravene the provisions of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relationships”.

The crash outside the embassy came only days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of committing a "war crime" in Bucha, in an address to the Romanian Parliament. Mr Zelenskyy also used the speech to call for tougher sanctions against Moscow.

Marcel Ciolacu, Romania’s President of the Chamber of Deputies, had earlier said the “horrible images” that came to light after Russian troops withdrew from Bucha have “overwhelmed and revolted us all”.

Photos showing bodies dumped in a mass grave in the grounds of a church in the commuter town north-west of Kyiv shocked the world and drew international condemnation. Bodies with their hands tied behind their backs were also found strewn on a street in the town.

Russia denied its forces had carried out atrocities and said the photos showing bodies in civilian clothes had been "stage-managed by the Kyiv regime for the western media".

Britain's Ministry of Defence on Wednesday published a satellite image which it claimed showed eight bodies strewn on a street in Bucha on March 21 when the city was under Russian occupation.

Updated: April 06, 2022, 11:17 AM
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