Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week warned Moldova not to endanger Russian troops stationed in Transnistria, a pro-Russian separatist region in the east of the country, saying it could spark a military confrontation .
In a television interview with a Russian station on Thursday, Lavrov said that “any action that threatens the safety of our troops will be considered by international law as an attack on Russia.”
Several hours earlier, Lavrov had accused pro-European Moldovan President Maia Sandu of blocking talks to resolve the conflict in Transnistria. “Transnistria and Russia support direct dialogue, but judging by the statements of President Maia Sandu and her team, they do not want such a dialogue, because the United States and the EU are ordering them to reject the talks,” Lavrov said. “Apparently they are looking for a non-diplomatic solution to the Transnistrian problem.”
Sergei Lavrov warned Moldova that a military confrontation could be considered
A few days earlier, the separatist leader of Transnistria, Vadim Krasnoselsky, had sent a letter to President Sandu asking for talks on a peaceful political solution to the conflict in Transnistria. However, Moldova only communicates with the dissident pro-Russian government in Transnistria through its Reintegration Office, a government body headed by Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Serebrian.
In the TV interview, Lavrov also said Russia would stand up for Russian speakers in Moldova, reminding viewers that apart from Transnistria, the Gagauzia region also seeks special recognition in the country. He said he hoped “Molvada’s leadership would put an end to Western-dictated geopolitical games and instead think about the interests of the people, living side by side.” In July this year, Lavrov already accused Moldova of working to “cancel everything Russian, like in Ukraine”.
That same month, Moldova and Ukraine obtained EU candidate status.
Moldova’s firm position
Moldova’s reintegration office was quick to respond to Lavrov’s comments. In a public statement, he said the country was committed to a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Transnistria.
This, he added, involves “the identification of a lasting and comprehensive solution that respects the unified, sovereign and indivisible character of Moldova”. He added that such a solution would aim to consolidate Moldova’s statehood, restore its territorial integrity and complete reforms throughout the country.
The government body also vehemently rejects claims that the rights of Russian speakers are being violated. Instead, he claims that the rights of Romanian speakers holding Moldovan passports are restricted in Transnistria, where they would be treated as foreigners.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu urged Moldovans not to fall into the trap of Russian propaganda
Speaking via video link at the Strategic Forum in Bled in late August, President Sandu said she was aware of many inappropriate Russian comments towards her country, as well as statements disrespectful of Moldovan sovereignty. She also said her country was in a delicate situation, with war raging nearby.
In an interview on Moldovan television, Sandu warned his fellow citizens not to be manipulated by statements coming “from Transnistria, Moscow or pro-Russian politicians in [the Moldovan capital] Chisinau.” She says she received letters from Transnistria‘s separatist, but stressed that all communications must go through Moldova‘s reintegration office. She said everything would be done to keep the peace.
Sandu said the two sides have started communicating more frequently from Russia.‘s invasion of Ukraine, which was born of a desire to avoid any form of destabilization.
Russian speakers are not discriminated against
This is not the first time that Russia has used the Russian language as a pretext to foment instability in Moldova. In March this year, Russia‘The Moldovan embassy has contacted Russians in the country, asking them to report any cases of “national, linguistic, cultural or religious” discrimination. Dozens of Russian speakers in Moldova have responded by launching an online petition, urging Moscow to leave the country quietly, saying they have not faced any discrimination.
Tiraspol, the capital of the secessionist region of Moldova, Transnistria
Moldova‘The Russian Foreign Ministry has warned the Russian Embassy not to cause unrest in the country, with President Sandu saying that all citizens of the country can live in peace regardless of their spoken language.
After Lavrov‘s statements, Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescuon on Thursday summoned Moldova‘s Russian Ambassador. His ministry also released a statement highlighting Moldova‘s commitment to respect the rights of Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian and other ethnic minorities.
Russia has kept what it calls peacekeeping troops stationed in Transnistria since the early 1990s, after pro-Russian separatists seized control of the region following a violent struggle. Moldova has demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops, to which Moscow has previously committed, as well as a UN observation mission sent to Transnistria.
This article has been translated from German.