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Ukraine blocks access to exit from Transdniestria for Russian citizens

March 15, 19:23 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, March 15, 18:50 /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine has sealed its border with Moldova in the breakaway Transdniestrian region for Russian males, Russian peacekeepers in the region said.

“Males with Russian passports are not allowed to cross the border in either direction,” a Russian peacekeeping contingent officer, who is returning to this base from a holiday, said by telephone on Saturday, March 15.

The contingent’s command confirmed this information and added that Ukrainian border guards also stopped trains with supplies for the Russian peacekeepers in Transdniestria. Two such trains with food, clothes and fuel intended for the Russian troops have been staying on the sidetracks since March 10.

An official at the Joint Control Commission said that the blocking by Ukrainian border guards of the movement of Russian citizens and cargoes would jeopardise security in the region.

“Since Russia bears the brunt of it, this decision may be regarded as aimed at undermining the peacekeeping mission in Transdniestria. If logistical supplies for the Russian contingent are terminated, this may have unpredictable consequences and may call into doubt Ukraine’s role as a party to the peacekeeping mission,” the official said.

The Transdniestrian conflict started in March 1992 when the first clashes occurred between Moldovan police and Transdniestrian militia near the city of Dubossary, which were followed by an outbreak of armed hostilities. By summer, it had developed into large-scale fighting in Bendery, where about a thousand people were killed and tens of thousands were wounded and became refugees.

The fratricidal war was stopped after a peace agreement was signed in Moscow in July of the same year and Russian peacekeepers were brought into the conflict area.

Since then, they have been guarding peace and calm in the region, together with their Moldovan and Transdniestria colleagues, thus allowing Chisinau and Tiraspol to conduct negotiations on the settlement of the conflict.

Russian peacekeepers were deployed in the region in July 1992 after the presidents of Moldova and Russia had signed in Moscow an agreement on the peaceful settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict, thus putting an end to the fratricidal war that had claimed over a thousand lives and left tens of thousands wounded and refugees.

The limited group of Russian troops (LGRT) and Russian peacekeepers are staying in the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic in accordance with the Agreement on the Principles of Peaceful Settlement of the Moldovan-Transdniestrian Conflict that was signed in 1992 by the heads of Russia and the Republic of Moldova in the presence of the president of Transdniestria. The joint statement of the presidents of Moldova, Transdniestria and Russia signed on March 18, 2009 noted the stabilising role of the Russian peacekeeping mission in the region and the advisability for its transformation into a peace-safeguarding operation under the auspices of the OSCE only after the Transdniestrian settlement. The LGRT guards the remains of arms depots that were built during the Second World War and that began to be moved out in 2000. This process was later stopped by the Transdniestrian authorities following a deep stalemate in the Moldovan-Transdniestrian conflict.

Since then, they have been guarding peace in the region together with their Moldovans and Transdniestrian colleagues. No armed clashes or deaths of peaceful citizen have been reported in the region during this period.

The Transdniestrian settlement talks in 5+2 format were broken up at the end of February 2006. Chisinau and Tiraspol managed to resume the dialogue with Russia’s assistance two years later at the level of political representatives. They gathered every month to resolve pressing problems of the population of Moldova and the breakaway republic. In March 2009, the negotiations were resumed again after the trilateral meeting of the presidents of Russia, Moldova and Transdniestria. At their meetings in Moscow and Vilnius late last year and in Dublin this year, the parties agreed to resume the talks.

The agenda of the 5+2 talks consists of three sets of issues: socioeconomic problems, humanitarian issues and human rights, and comprehensive settlement, including institutional, political and security issues.

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