Moldova summons Russian diplomat over Lavrov threat

Moldova summons Russian diplomat over Lavrov threat
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow "will do everything" to protect the interests of the Russian-speaking population in Moldova.
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest September 2, 2022

Moldova’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the interim chargé d'affaires of the Russian Federation in Chisinau on September 1 to explain the statements of the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, who previously stated that Moscow “will do everything to protect the interests of the Russian-speaking population of the Republic of Moldova”, reported, quoting a Telegram post from Russian Smotri Media.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, there have been fears that Russia could use Transnistria, a Russia-backed separatist republic in the eastern part of Moldova, to embroil Moldova in the war. 

Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov warned that “any actions that will endanger the security of our soldiers [in Transnistria] will be interpreted, in accordance with international law, as an attack on the Russian Federation.” 

He did not differentiate between the peacekeepers (which Moldova seeks to replace with UN troops) and the illegally-stationed GOTR troops (which Moldova insists must be removed).  

The Moldovan authorities “avoid a direct dialogue with [the separatist regime in] Tiraspol because they would prefer to settle the conflict in another way than the diplomatic one,” Lavrov also claimed.

Moldova’s President Maia Sandu responded to Lavrov, saying it is Russia that has constantly launched provocations in Moldova since it attacked Ukraine. 

“It is Russia and not Moldova that must provide explanations when it comes to aggression. We used each opportunity to affirm our commitment to accept only a peaceful settlement of the Transnistrian conflict. All these statements [of Lavrov] are probably aimed to destabilise the situation in Moldova,” Sandu stated, quoted by ProTV.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Moldova, Daniel Voda, said in a Facebook statement that Moldova’s legislation guarantees fundamental human rights and freedoms of minorities and stressed that Moldova has constantly argued for a diplomatic settlement of the Transnistrian issue.

"The rights of Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian and other ethnic minorities are observed in accordance with democratic principles, and in the case of the Russian speakers mentioned in the statement [of the Russian foreign minister], no violations of rights have been reported to the competent institutions in our country," wrote Voda.

At the same time, the spokesperson stated that the authorities in Chisinau "reiterate their commitment to peaceful, diplomatic and dialogue-based methods both for the reintegration of the country and in the dialogue with the Russian Federation regarding the withdrawal of Russian troops stationed illegally on the territory of the country.”

“We consider any other speculations unfounded," he added.