CHISINAU, July 8. /TASS/. Conditions haven't been created yet for the withdrawal of the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF) from Transnistria, Russian Ambassador to Moldova Oleg Vasnetsov said in an interview with TASS.
"Responsible politicians in Chisinau understand that calls for the withdrawal of the OGRF are premature. About 1,500 Russian troops, who facilitate peacekeeping activities and guard warehouses containing outdated ammunition in Transnistria, cannot be pulled out with a wave of a magic wand," Vasnetsov pointed out.
He noted that the Russian forces had helped put an end to fratricidal war and had been maintaining peace in the region for 28 years together with Moldovan and Transnistrian peacekeepers, providing the parties with the opportunity to hold talks on resolving the conflict peacefully. "It is naive to blame them for the fact that politicians are unable to make agreements. Moreover, I get the impression from working in Moldova that it is those who have for years been calling for the elimination of the Moldovan state who are interested in escalating tensions between people living on the banks of the Dniester River. This particularly goes for some political circles overseas," the Russian ambassador added.
Vasnetsov stressed that attempts to drive Russia out of Moldova, which ran counter to the position of the majority of the country’s people, would lead nowhere. "It is not just about security issues. There are close family relations and other kinds of ties between our nations, over 200,000 Russian citizens live in Moldova and we certainly have no right to leave them to their own devices," the envoy emphasized.
He said that moves to expel diplomats and ban Russian media outlets as well as other steps against Russia, made after oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc had taken control of the country’s government, were just childish games. "How can a responsible politician, just to achieve short-term goals and satisfy his foreign sponsors, disregard the interests of his people and domestic manufacturers whose production is oriented towards the Russian market? How can he neglect the interests of over 500,000 Moldovan labor migrants, most of whom work in Russia and transfer significant amounts of money to their home country, helping to keep its economy afloat?" the Russian ambassador insisted.
According to him, most Moldovan residents don’t want to forget that their fathers and grandfathers defeated Nazism and they don’t welcome censorship against Russian media outlets imposed by the oligarch ruler. Neither do they want their country to become a NATO member and unite with Romania.
"Some Moldovan politicians criticize efforts to maintain good relations with Russia and inter-ethnic harmony, protect the rights of the Russian-speaking population and the Russian language, as well as other steps that the national authorities take, though they are primarily important for Moldova. It also concerns calls for joining NATO and uniting with Romania, which is what most of the nation’s people oppose," Vasnetsov concluded.
Not foisting foreign policy path on Moldova
Russia won’t foist a foreign policy path on Moldova, but it will always protect its own interests, Oleg Vasnetsov told TASS. "We do not dictate to the Moldovan authorities, which foreign policy path they should choose. But this does not mean that Russia has no interests of its own. We have, just like the other countries. And we will always protect them," the envoy noted.
He recalled that Moscow warned its partners in Chisinau that the implementation of the 2014 agreements with the EU would negatively affect the entire complex of economic ties with Russia, which used to be the main exports market for Moldovan produce.
"We proposed to hold negotiations to solve this issue. Our words were not heeded. The Russian government was forced to introduce restrictions on imports of a number of Moldovan goods in a bid to minimize risks of exports and re-exports of goods from third countries," the envoy noted.
According to Vasnetsov, promises made by some Moldovan politicians to compensate for the loss of the Russian market by exports to the EU have not come to fruition. "In many regards thanks to the efforts of President Igor Dodon — and now also of Prime Minister Ion Chicu — the situation is being fixed now, Moldovan goods steadily return to the Russian market," the diplomat said.
He underscored that numerous polls indicated that the sympathies of the Moldovan people divided approximately equally between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). "I believe that it would be at least short-sighted to ignore these sympathies. Both President Dodon and other Moldovan politicians reiterated the need for a balanced foreign policy that would take the importance of balance between the West and the East into account," Vasnetsov noted.
According to the envoy, Russia always opposed creation of new fault lines both in Europe and globally. "We do not look to make enemies, and we are open for mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries. At the same time, the events of the last few years displayed clearly that we will not sacrifice the interests of our national security, which, alas, happened in the 1990s. During that time, a certain someone in the West sought to persuade everyone that a unilateral hegemony would come after the Cold War period. This prediction did not materialize; life has shown that a multipolar world emerges instead. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to return to the rhetoric of those years," the ambassador said.