April 12. 2024. 10:50

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Moldova dismisses Transnistria’s request for Russian help


Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region asked Russia on Wednesday (28 February) to help its economy withstand Moldovan “pressure”, at a meeting of hundreds of officials dismissed by the pro-European Chisinau government as a propaganda stunt to gain headlines.

The region, long seen as a potential flashpoint with Russia in Europe, held a “congress of deputies of all levels” after Moldova required Transnistrian firms to pay import duties to the central budget from January.

The congress passed a resolution saying it would appeal to both houses of Russia’s parliament “with a request to implement diplomatic measures to protect Transnistria in the face of increasing pressure from Moldova”.

The unrecognised strip of land, which borders war-stricken Ukraine to the east, has maintained autonomy from Chisinau for three decades with support from Moscow, which has more than a thousand troops stationed there since a brief war in 1992.

After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, tensions surged around the separatist region, which says it has 220,000 Russian citizens.

Relations between Moldova and Russia have also frayed as the Chisinau government has steered a pro-European course and accused Moscow of trying to destabilise it.

Moldova at forefront of Kremlin’s hybrid war, says Romanian FM

Moldova has found itself at the forefront of a hybrid war orchestrated by the Kremlin, Romanian Foreign Affairs Minister Luminița Odobescu said on Tuesday following a meeting with the new Moldovan Foreign Affairs Minister Mihai Popșoi, who was in Bucharest for his inaugural foreign visit.

President Maia Sandu, in Albania for a summit of southeast European countries, said Moldova remained committed to a peaceful resolution of the Transnistrian conflict.

“What the government is doing today is making small steps for the economic reintegration of the country,” she said.

Oleg Serebrian, a Moldovan deputy prime minister, said the congress was a propaganda event, and that the breakaway region and all Moldova’s citizens were benefiting from Moldova’s push to join the European Union.

The United States “firmly supports” Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Wednesday in Washington.

“Given Russia’s increasingly aggressive role in Europe, we are watching Russia’s actions in Transdniestria and the broader situation there very closely,” Miller said, using another name for the region.

Commenting on the congress, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said defending the interests of Transnistria’s citizens was a priority and that the request would be reviewed carefully, the RIA news agency reported.

The region’s economy minister told the congress, held in the regional capital Tiraspol, that customs revenues paid into Transnistria’s budget had fallen by 18% under the new regulation.

EU leaders approve accession talks with Ukraine, Moldova, bypassing Hungary

In a historic step, EU leaders agreed on Thursday (14 December) to open EU accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova and grant candidate status to Georgia, despite an earlier threat from Hungary to veto the deal.

“There is social and economic pressure on Transnistria, which directly contradicts European principles and approaches to the protection of human rights and free trade,” the resolution said.

Last December EU leaders greenlighted the start of accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova.

(Edited by Georgi Gotev).

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