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Alcohol Jibes Fuel War of Words as Russia, Romania Clash

Allegations that alcohol had clouded decision-making ignited a war of words between Russia’s deputy prime minister and Romania’s president.

Russia’s Dmitry Rogozin, who’s been sanctioned by the U.S. and the European Union after Russia annexed Crimea, said he “wonders how many drinks” Traian Basescu consumed “to have the courage” to close Romanian air space for his plane, according to a post on Twitter today. Basescu yesterday questioned “how much vodka” Rogozin drank before tweeting that next time he’d fly over Romania in a Tu-160 Russian bomber.

“It’s a totally disrespectful statement toward another state and toward anything that’s not Mother Russia,” Basescu told the website yesterday in an interview.

Rogozin, a former Russian ambassador to NATO, had been visiting Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria. The U.S. and EU have imposed asset freezes and travel bans on members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle in a bid to force him to ease tensions in Ukraine, whose east is dogged by unrest.

Romania, an EU and NATO member, is seeking clarification on whether Rogozin’s statement reflects Russia’s official position, according to a Foreign Ministry statement yesterday.

The ministry called the threat to use a strategic bomber “very serious” in the current context as Russia has “violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and separatist forces are committing grave violations of public order in the neighboring state.”

Russia is preparing “harsh measures” against Romania after this weekend’s plane incident, Rogozin told reporters today in Gorky.

Rogozin’s purpose is to annoy, Basescu said in an interview with the online TV station. “You must respond to such a clown in his own language.”

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