Vladimir Putin revoked this Tuesday a 2012 decree that partly recognized Moldova’s sovereignty in resolving the future of the Transnistria region, a Moscow-backed breakaway region that borders Ukraine and where Russia maintains troops.
The decree, which included a Moldovan component, outlined Russia’s foreign policy of 11 years ago, which assumed Moscow’s closer relations with the European Union (EU) and the United States.
The order revoking the 2012 document was posted on the Kremlin’s website and claims that the decision was made to “guarantee the national interests of Russia in relation to the profound changes that are taking place in international relations”.
It is part of a series of anti-Western measures announced by Putin on Tuesday.
Alexandru Flenchea, Moldovan chairman of the joint control commission in the security zone around Transnistria, said the cancellation did not mean Putin was abandoning the notion of Moldovan sovereignty.
“The decree is a political document that puts the concept of Russian foreign policy into practice,” Flenchea told Publika-TV. “Moldova and Russia have a basic political agreement that provides for mutual respect for the territorial integrity of our countries,” she added.
The Kremlin claimed that Russia’s relations with Moldova, which last week approved a new pro-Western prime minister who vowed to continue his campaign to join the EU, they were very tense. Moscow accuses Moldova of pursuing an anti-Russian agenda.
Nestled between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova, one of the poorest nations in Europe, has been led since 2020 by the president Maia Sandu, with the strong support of the United States and the European Union. The president of United States, Joe Bidenmet her in Poland on Tuesday to reaffirm his support.
The 2012 decree committed Russia to seek ways to resolve the separatist issue “based on respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral status of the Republic of Moldova when determining the special status of Transnistria.”
Russian-speaking Transnistria seceded from Moldova in 1990a year before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, fearing that Moldova would merge with Romania, whose language and culture they largely share.
A brief war pitted newly independent Moldova against separatists in 1992. But there has been virtually no violence in the past 30 years, and Russian “peacekeepers” remain stationed on the small piece of land, which lacks international recognition.
The Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that it would “carefully study” the document.
President Sandu last weekend ruled out an “imminent military threat” from Russia against her country but warned of the hybrid war in Moscow through misinformation and asked for help to combat it.
“We know that there is no imminent military threat to Moldova,” said Sandu, who participated in a panel at the Munich Security Conference together with the Finnish president, Sauli NiinistoPrime Minister of Denmark, mette frederiksenand the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.
According to the Moldovan president, the war in Ukraine keeps her country “safe” for the moment, however, she said, Russia is already waging “a hybrid war against Moldova.”
On the one hand, he considered that the “biggest problem” that the country and the entire region now have is “surveillance and air defense” and demanded urgent assistance in this context. But he stressed above all the need to receive help against Russian disinformation.
“We need support to develop our strategic intelligence capabilities to deal with cyber threats. We need support to modernize our security and border control (…) and I think we need to work together and be more efficient in dealing with Russian propaganda. It is extremely difficult for us to deal with this problem alone,” Sandu said.
For his part, the Foreign Minister of Moldova, Niku Popescu, asked the European Union (EU) on Monday to impose sanctions on Moldovan oligarchs accused of supporting Russia in destabilizing their country. “We need to include these oligarchs, who are people trusted by Moscow, on the EU sanctions list,” he said, quoted by Radio Chisinau.
According to the head of Moldovan diplomacy during his visit to Brussels, his country “has been facing situations of this type since last year.”
Popescu called for the inclusion in the sanctions lists of “oligarchs and corrupt politicians who, together with Russia, are trying to destabilize Moldova.”
(With information from Reuters and EFE)
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