Moldova today summoned the Russian ambassador to protest against statements by a Russian general saying Moscow intends to control southern Ukraine to gain access to a Moldovan breakaway region.
Moldova expressed “deep concern” to the ambassador over the statements made by Russian general Rustam Minnekaiev, the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Moldova “considers these statements as unfounded and contradictory with Russia’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country,” the ministry continued.
“Moldova is a neutral country” and calls on Moscow to “respect this principle”, he added.
Moldova’s concern is related to statements by General Rustam Minnekaiev, deputy commander of the forces of the Central Russian Military District, who today stated Moscow’s intention to take “total control of Donbass [east] and southern Ukraine “.
According to Minnekayev, control of southern Ukraine should, in particular, allow aid to be provided to Russian-speaking Transnistrian separatists, who since 1992 have controlled this Moldovan territory along the border with western Ukraine. A Russian military base is located in this region.
“The control of southern Ukraine also includes a corridor towards Transnistria, where there are also cases of oppression of the Russian-speaking population”, assured General Minnekayev.
These statements aroused concern among the Moldovan authorities, as this was one of the arguments that Moscow used to justify its invasion of Ukraine, while also accusing the Kyiv government of persecuting Russian-speaking populations.
The complex relations between Russia and Moldova, a former Soviet republic of 2.6 million located between Romania and Ukraine, worsened after the 2020 election of Maia Sandu, a pro-European president.
Transnistria, which declared secession from Moldova after a short civil war in the course of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, has about 500,000 inhabitants and is supported economically and militarily by Moscow.
This territory, crossed by the river Dniester, is not recognized as a State by international bodies.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, arguing the need to defend the local Russian-speaking population as well as “demilitarize and denazify” the neighboring country.
The UN has confirmed the death of more than 2,000 civilians in nearly two months of fighting but has warned that the number is likely to be much higher.
The war has driven more than five million people to flee Ukraine, with seven million displaced in the country, according to the UN.
The Russian invasion was condemned by the international community in general, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and reinforcing economic and political sanctions on Moscow.
Source: With Agencies