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Breakaway Transnistria asks Russia for ‘protection’ against Moldova

Vadim Krasnoselsky, the head of Transnistria - Moldova's pro-Russian breakaway region, gives a speech during a congress of Transnistrian deputies in Tiraspol on February 28, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Pro-Russian officials in the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria have called for help from Moscow to protect them in the face of increased pressure from Moldova’s government.

The appeal to Moscow was made on Wednesday at a special session of Transnistria’s Congress of Deputies.

“[We] appeal to the Federation Council and the State Duma of the Russian Federation, requesting measures to protect Transnistria amidst increased pressure from Moldova,” read a resolution adopted by Transnistrian lawmakers.

The congress accused the Moldovan government of initiating an “economic war” on the region by blocking crucial imports and imposing customs regulations that force companies in Transnistria to pay import duties into the Moldovan budget. This move has been described as an attempt to isolate the region and turn it into a "ghetto."

The resolution noted that more than “220,000 Russian citizens” live inside the region as Moscow has recently made it easier for Moldovans to get Russian citizenship.

At its last session in 2006, the assembly asked to join Russia, though Moscow did not act on that request.

Russian media outlets cited Vadim Krasnoselsky, the self-proclaimed president of the region, as requesting assistance from Moscow due to what he described as a genocide being carried out against Transnistria.

“Protection of interests of Transnistrian people,our compatriots is one of Russia’s priorities, and Russian agencies review all Tiraspol’s requests carefully,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in response.

In a recent development, Moldova's Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Serebrian posted that Moldova firmly opposes the "propaganda statements" originating from Tiraspol, the nominal capital of Transnistria.

Earlier, a Moldovan government spokesman said there was "no danger of escalation and destabilization of the situation in the Transnistrian region. This is another campaign to create hysteria."

The Transnistria resolution comes just a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to make an annual address to the Russian parliament, coinciding with Ukraine's recent setbacks on the battlefield.

Since Moscow launched its full-scale military operation in Ukraine, Moldova has expressed concern that the Kremlin could use Transnistria to open a new front in the southwest, near the southern Ukrainian region of Odesa.

The thin strip of land, home to about 470,000 people, has been de facto controlled by pro-Russian forces since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 but is internationally recognized as part of Moldova.

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