From Troubled Water: A Journey Around the Black Sea, by Jens Mühling (Armchair Traveller series; Haus, 2022), Kindle pp. 235-236:
There are many strange borders around the Black Sea, but that between Romania and Ukraine is one of the stranger ones. It coincides with the most northerly branch of the Danube delta, running along its length and dividing it into a Romanian half and a Ukrainian half. Russian Old Believers live on both sides, their villages separated in some places only by 200 m of water, so close that you can count the onions growing in the gardens on the other bank. It has long been impossible to cross over from here to there, however. The external border of the Soviet Union was drawn along the northern bank after the Second World War; nowadays, the south side marks where the European Union ends. Border craft patrol the river which has kept the Lipovan villages apart for more than seventy years. A man in Mila 23 told me that almost all the Old Believers in the delta had relatives on the other side, whom they knew only from stories recounted by their grandparents. The border had torn the Lipovan families asunder.
If you want to cross from Romania to the other side, you have to leave the delta and follow the Danube upstream to Galati – the nearest border crossing, a good 100 km from the coast. It does not lead into Ukraine, however, but into the southernmost tip of Moldova. Only 2 km further on comes a second border, this one with Ukraine.
An old Moldovan by the name of Foma, who had worked as a policeman in the Soviet days, took me to Reni, the first place on the Ukrainian side, which was where he lived.
On the way to the bus station, we drove past the base of a monument with no monument standing on it. I pointed to the empty plinth.
Foma nodded. This was not the first empty Lenin plinth I’d seen. Since the start of the war with Russia, the Ukrainians had toppled the old memorials to the Soviet leader all over the country.
‘Is it Lenin’s fault that life’s bad?’ Foma didn’t wait for my answer. ‘The goal of socialism was for everyone to have a house, a car, a dacha. What’s so bad about that?’
The main street of Reni was pitted with enormous rainfilled potholes. We dodged these craters at walking pace like cosmonauts on a lunar expedition. Rarely had the gulf between the goals and the consequences of socialism seemed wider to me.
Foma didn’t think much of Ukraine’s new-found nationalism. ‘Is it going to make our lives better if they send us hooligans who rip down monuments to Lenin? What are these nationalists even doing here? There are hardly any Ukrainians in Budjak! The villages here are Romanian, Moldovan, Bulgarian, and Gagauz. We all speak our own languages, and we communicate with one another in Russian. No one speaks Ukrainian …’