Russia has threatened Moldova with military action if the security of Russian troops in Transnistria is threatened. A huge Russian military contingent has been stationed in this separatist region of the country since the 1990s.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned Moldova that a “threatening situation” for the security of Russian troops in Transnistria could lead to a military conflict with Moscow. “Any threat to the security of Russian soldiers will be perceived as an attack on Russia,” Lavrov said in an interview with Russian television.
Hours before making that threat, Lavrov accused Moldovan President Maya Sandu of blocking talks to resolve the conflict in Transnistria, the separatist region in the east of the country.
“Both we and Transnistria are committed to direct dialogue, but after Maya Sandu’s public comments and judging by the behavior of her team, they clearly do not want such a dialogue because they are led by the EU and the USA. Obviously, they hope that the Transnistrian issue will not be resolved through diplomacy,” said the Russian foreign minister.
Moscow’s fabricated arguments
Lavrov’s verbal attacks on Moldova’s pro-EU authorities came just days after the head of the separatist administration in Tiraspol, Vadim Krasnoselski, sent a letter to Maja Sandu. In it, he asks the Moldovan president to negotiate “the principles of a peaceful political solution”. However, Moldova communicates with the pro-Russian regime in Tiraspol only through a government structure called the Reintegration Service, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Serebryan.
Lavrov told the Russian TV channel that Russia will protect the Russian-speaking minority in Moldova. He also recalled that “in Moldova, in addition to Transnistria, there is also Gagauzia, which also has a special status”. The Russian foreign minister also said that he hopes that “the authorities in Moldova will do the right thing by “stopping the geopolitical games imposed on them by the West and start looking after the interests of the people who live together”.
Back in June, Lavrov accused the authorities in Chisinau of beginning to deny everything Russian, just as the Ukrainians had done. Together with Ukraine, Moldova became a candidate for membership in the European Union in June.
A decisive reaction from Chisinau
Chisinau immediately responded to Lavrov’s accusations. The Moldovan authorities confirmed their readiness to preserve peace in Transnistria, as well as to work towards finding a “sustainable and comprehensive solution that respects the unitary, sovereign and indivisible territorial character of Moldova”. In addition, the authorities categorically denied the allegation that the rights of Russian-speaking citizens in the Republic of Moldova were violated. The Reintegration Office even reciprocated criticism of the administration in Transnistria, which restricted the rights of Romanian-speaking Moldovan citizens.
At the end of August, Maja Sandu stated that in recent months she noticed an increasing number of statements from Moscow, which “are not acceptable, and sometimes even express disrespect for the sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova.” The situation is complicated because “our region is prone to wars”, said the Moldovan president. In an interview with local television, Maya Sandu urged citizens not to allow themselves to be manipulated by “speech in Transnistria and Moscow or by pro-Russian politicians in Chisinau.”
“We will do everything in our power, we will also have a more frequent dialogue with the regime in Tiraspol in order to preserve the peace”. Sandu also stated that any attempts to destabilize and involve the Republic of Moldova in a war should be avoided”.
Nobody wants to be “saved” by Putin
This is not the first time that Russia has tried to use the “language” argument to destabilize Moldova. In March, shortly after Putin’s army entered Ukraine, the Russian embassy in Chisinau asked Russians in the country to email the diplomatic mission if they felt discriminated against on “national, linguistic, cultural, religious or other grounds.”
In response, the Russian-speaking population of Moldova started a petition demanding that Moscow leave the people of Moldova alone. The petition states that no one discriminates against Russian speakers in Moldova, nor does they need to be “rescued”. And Maya Sandu assured Moscow that in Moldova all residents are safe, no matter what language they speak.
Illegally deployed troops
An official statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Moldova states that “Moldovan legislation guarantees the basic human rights and freedoms of the Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian and other ethnic minorities in accordance with democratic principles.”
In addition, Chisinau is trying to find a peaceful solution to restore the territorial integrity of Moldova and to withdraw the Russian troops illegally stationed on Moldovan territory in Transnistria.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Russia has supported the so-called a peacekeeping mission in Transnistria made up of troops from the former Soviet 14th Army. At the time, pro-Russian separatists took control of the region after an armed conflict. Chisinau insists that the troops be withdrawn – something that Moscow promised but never fulfilled, writes fakti.bg.