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TIRASPOL, July 5. /TASS/. Moldova, contrary to its neutral status, has intensified military cooperation with NATO, in order to make Trans-Dniester Republic abandon the policy of rapprochement with Russia, leader of the unrecognized republic Yevgeny Shevchuk told TASS in an interview on Tuesday.
"Contrary to its neutrality stipulated by the Constitution, Moldova has stepped up military cooperation with NATO. Many exercises involving the NATO military, including live firing, are carried out at a range located a few kilometers from the Trans-Dniester conflict’s separation ‘security zone’. Recently, the US military have even invaded this zone, grossly violating its rules and regimes," Shevchuk said. "The purpose of these actions is clear - by the ‘hybrid’ war methods to suppress Trans-Dniester Republic, create intolerable conditions here in order to make the people give up their independence and the policy of rapprochement with Russia."
According to him, numerous incidents of Romanian aircraft’s repeated invasion of the Trans-Dniester region’s airspace for aerial photographing of military facilities there have been recorded.
"The analysis of the data available to us suggests that in fact, there is no such thing as neutrality in Moldova for a long time. The people who have been trained in specialized educational structures of the United States and the countries of the Alliance have long been placed on the key positions in the Moldovan Defense Ministry. Moldovan Defense Minister Anatol Salaru has openly called for the abandonment of neutrality and joining NATO. US Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO Allied Command Operations Philip Breedlove who has recently visited Chisinau has offered military assistance to Moldova", Shevchuk said.
The Trans-Dniester leader expressed concern that against this background, "the Ukrainian authorities have banned the transit of Russian cargoes for supporting the peacekeeping operation in the Trans-Dniester region, and the Moldovan security services deport Russian soldiers who are sent to serve in the ranks of the peacekeeping contingent."
In 2006, the Trans-Dniester region held a referendum in which 97.1% of voters were in favor of independence and subsequent free unification with Russia. Moldova is a neutral state, which cannot join military blocs, according to its Constitution. Since 1994, the republic cooperates with NATO within the Individual Partnership Action Plan. However, according to the study by the US International Republican Institute (IRI), a mere 16% of the population of Moldova support joining the Alliance and 40% are against.
Talks in the 5+2 format, involving Moldova and Trans-Dniester Republic as parties to the conflict, the OSCE as a mediator, Russia and Ukraine as guarantors and the European Union and the United States as observers, resumed in Berlin in early June after a two-year break. Relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol chilled after the Trans-Dniester leader accused Moldova and Ukraine of exerting coordinated pressure on the unrecognized republic through economic sanctions. Tiraspol accused the Moldovan authorities of opening about 200 criminal cases against Trans-Dniester officials. Observers say it has become possible to resume the talks thanks to Russia’s and Germany’s mediation.
A traditional Bavarian conference on trust-building measures between Chisinau and Tiraspol is to be held in July. It is an unofficial annual meeting held near Munich since 2009. The sides are expected to outline coordinated solutions from the Berlin package.
Trans-Dniester, 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.