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Russian deputy PM worried over possible escalation in Transnistria

August 06, 2017, 18:38 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Dmitry Rogozin said he is worried over the Moldovan government’s policy towards Transnistria that might aggravate the situation in that unrecognized republic

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MOSCOW, August 6. /TASS/. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Sunday he is worried over the Moldovan government’s policy towards Transnistria that might aggravate the situation in that unrecognized republic.

"We are worried over that most of all," he said in an interview with the Sunday evening news roundup on the Rossiya-1 television channel when asked whether the conflict with the Moldovan government could deteriorate situation around Transnistria. "We have a military contingent there, which guards munitions depots of the former 14th Soviet army. Second, we have about 450 peacekeepers there. <…> Now, the Moldovan authorities and security agencies are seeking to deprive us of the possibility to rotate our peacekeepers, whose term of service is expiring and who are to return home. Moldovan authorities stop Russian officials."

"It is a subject matter for a very tough talk and it looks like we will have this talks neither with Bucharest nor with Chisinau. We will speak with those who are pulling these strings," he noted.

Earlier this week, Moldova’s government declared Rogozin persona non grata and banned him to enter Moldova and cross it in transit. Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs and European Integration Minister Andrei Galbur said the government took the step due to a series of statements unfriendly to Moldova and its citizens.

Rogozin is co-chairman of the Russian Moldovan intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation and Russian president’s special representative for Transnistria.

Transnistrian conflict

Transnistria, a largely Russian-speaking region, broke away from Moldova following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its relations with Moldova’s central government in Chisinau have been highly mixed and extremely tense at times ever since then. In 1992 and 1993, tensions erupted into a bloody armed conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of people on both sides.

The fratricidal war was stopped after a peace agreement was signed in Moscow in 1992 and Russian peacekeepers were brought into the conflict area. Negotiations on the conflict’s peaceful settlement known as the 5+2 format talks (Moldova, Transnistria as parties to the conflict, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, Russia and Ukraine as mediators, and the European Union and the United States as observers) started after that.

For the moment, a joint peacekeeping force of Russian, Transnistrian and Moldovan servicemen, as well as a group of ten military observers from Ukraine are maintaining peace and stability in the buffer security zone of the Transnistrian conflict. Notably, no outbreaks of violence have been reported from that area after the deployment of Russian peacekeepers, which makes it possible for Chisinau and Tiraspol continue peace settlement talks.

The Russian military are also tasked to ensure security of munitions depots near the village of Cobasna. According to various estimates, the depots are holding more than 20,000 tons of weapons and munitions that were put for storage there after the withdrawal of Soviet troops from European countries. Weapons and munitions withdrawal and disposal campaign started in 2004 but in 2004 the Transnistrian authorities cut it short following deterioration of relations with Moldova.

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