Unrecognized Transnistria Seeks Assistance From Putin

Officials in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria in late February urged for protection from Moscow as tensions with Moldova’s pro-Western government escalated, the Associated Press reported.

At the start of the year, the government of Moldova imposed customs duties on imports and exports to and from Transnistria, the region of Moldova that borders Ukraine.

Despite maintaining close ties to Transnistria, Russia, like the other UN member countries, does not officially recognize the breakaway region.

In a rare meeting on February 28, members of Transnistria’s Supreme Council called on the Russian Parliament to “implement measures” to defend the region since over 220,000 Russians live in Transnistria.

Transnistria declared itself a breakaway state following a brief war in 1992 that was led by pro-Russia forces. Currently, about 1,500 Russian troops are acting as “peacekeepers” in the region. In reality, the troops are there to protect the stockpiles of Soviet-era weapons and ammunition.

Moldova is seeking to join the European Union and has been working to align with the EU’s economic legislation as part of the effort. However, the new customs duties imposed on Transnistria have angered officials in the region who argued that the duties harm businesses and residents of the breakaway state.

In a declaration read to the Supreme Council, officials also called on the EU Parliament to block what it claimed was the Moldovan government’s attempts to violate the “rights and freedoms” of the people of Transnistria. The officials also made similar appeals to the International Committee of the Red Cross and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Supreme Council Chairman Alexander Korshunov accused Moldova of exploiting a “geopolitical situation” and using the economy to “pressure and blackmail” Transnistria.

A spokesman for the Moldovan government described the Supreme Council meeting as a “propaganda event” and dismissed the claims saying that there was “no danger of escalation.”