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FOR A NEW AND UNITED EUROPE!
Europe between past and future
Mar 24, 2014
Declaration G7 to Russia at The Hague/ Romania fears a Crimean scenario in Moldova/NATO commander warns of Russian threat to separatist Moldova region
Romania fears a Crimean scenario in Moldova
Romanian President Traian Basescu wants the EU to fast-track Moldova’s
membership to prevent Russia from annexing the quasi-independent
Transdniester region, Radio Free Europe reports.
Speaking in Bucharest with Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti
at his side, Basescu said accelerating Moldova’s European integration
would protect the country’s security. His remarks came two days after
the speaker of Transdniester’s separatist parliament urged Russia
to absorb the predominantly Russian-speaking region, Balkan Insight
Transdniester declared independence with Russian help in 1990 on concern
that Moldova would reunite with Romania. No country recognizes its
Calling Transdniester’s parliament an “illegal body,” Timofti said that Russia would be making a mistake by agreeing to its
By May, Moldova is expected to win coveted visa-free travel to the EU.
It is also expected to sign an EU association and free-trade deal later
this year, but — as with Ukraine — Moscow wants the country in its
Eurasian Customs Union.
NATO commander warns of Russian threat to separatist Moldova region
NATO's top military commander said on Sunday Russia
had built up a "very sizeable" force on its border with Ukraine and
Moscow may have a region in another ex-Soviet republic, Moldova, in its
sights after annexing Crimea. Russia
was acting more like an adversary than a partner, NATO's Supreme Allied
Commander Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove said, and the
28-nation alliance should rethink the positioning and readiness of its
forces in eastern Europe.
troops, using armored vehicles, automatic weapons and stun grenades,
seized some of the last military facilities under Ukrainian control on
Saturday in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russian President
Vladimir Putin formally annexed the day before.
was one of several Western officials and politicians to warn on Sunday
that Russia may not stop there in a crisis that has taken East-West
relations lurching back towards the Cold War since pro-Western protests
in Ukraine ousted Moscow-allied President Viktor Yanukovich last month.
(Russian) force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is
very, very sizeable and very, very ready," the NATO commander told an
event held by the German Marshall Fund think-tank.
U.S. President Barack Obama's
deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said the build-up might
just be aimed at intimidating Ukraine's new pro-Western leaders but that
Russia could invade the country's mainly Russian-speaking east. "It's
possible that they are preparing to move in," he told CNN.
meeting of the G7 group of industrialized nations has been hastily
convened for Monday in the Netherlands to allow leaders to discuss a
response to Russia's actions. Obama will also meet Russian Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov for bilateral talks.
said it was complying with international agreements and had no plans to
invade. It has called the soldiers who took over Ukrainian bases in
Crimea "self defense forces".
The United States and the European Union have targeted some of Putin's closest political and business
allies with personal sanctions and have threatened broader economic
sanctions if Putin's forces encroach on other eastern or southern parts
of Ukraine with big Russian-speaking populations. Germany,
which has close trade ties with Russia, said the European Union was
united in its readiness to impose sanctions on Russia if necessary, and
that Moscow had the most to lose.
of us wants to escalate, but if Russia changes things unilaterally,
then it must know that we won't accept it and that relations will be
bad," Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told German television.
marine standards were still flying on Sunday alongside the Russian flag
at the Crimean base of Ukraine's top military unit in Feodosia, but the
Ukrainian troops were getting ready to leave after the Russian military
"Our only issue is that we want to leave this place with honor, weapons and vehicles," one Ukrainian soldier said.
said Washington was considering all requests for military assistance
from the government in Kiev, but that it would be unlikely to prevent an
invasion of Ukraine, which is not part of NATO. Breedlove said the
military alliance needed to think about its eastern members,
particularly the former Soviet Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and
"We need to think about
our allies, the positioning of our forces in the alliance and the
readiness of those forces ... such that we can be there to defend
against it if required, especially in the Baltics and other places,"
Breedlove said NATO
was very concerned about the threat to Transdniestria, which declared
independence from Moldova in 1990 but has not been recognized by any United Nations
member state. About 30 percent of its half million population is ethnic
Russian and more than half of the total speak Russian as a mother
Russia has 440 peacekeepers
in Transdniestria plus other soldiers guarding Soviet-era arms stocks.
It launched a new military exercise, involving 8,500 artillery men, near
Ukraine's eastern border 10 days ago.
is absolutely sufficient (Russian) force postured on the eastern border
of Ukraine to run to Transdniestria if the decision was made to do
that, and that is very worrisome," Breedlove said.
speaker of Transdniestria's parliament has urged Russia to incorporate
the region, which lies to the west of Ukraine. The new leaders in Kiev
have said Moscow could seek to link up pro-Russian regions in Moldova,
and Georgia to Ukraine's east, in a destabilizing southern corridor with
Crimea in the middle.
Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov was quoted by the state's
Itar-Tass news agency as saying Russia was complying with international
agreements limiting the number of troops near its border with Ukraine.
Moscow's ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov,
Russia did not have "expansionist views". Asked to give a commitment
that Russian troops would not move into Ukrainian territory outside
Crimea, he told Britain's BBC. "There is no intention of the Russian
Federation to do anything like that."
Senator John McCain, a Republican foreign policy specialist, told the
same BBC show that Putin's actions in Ukraine were akin to those of
Adolf Hitler in 1930s Germany.
think he (Putin) is calculating how much he can get away with, just as
Adolf Hitler calculated how much he could get away with in the 1930s,"
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier underscored the huge potential
repercussions of Russia's bid to redraw national borders in Europe.
very worried the unlawful attempt to alter recognized borders in our
European neighborhood, 25 years after the end of the Cold War, will open
Pandora's Box," he said.
President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russia, accepted on
Sunday that Crimea was now "de facto" a part of Russia, but said the
annexation set a "bad precedent".
sanctions lost some of their sting on Sunday when Russia's SMP bank,
whose main shareholders were targeted by U.S. sanctions, said Visa Inc
and MasterCard Inc had resumed payment services for its clients.
bank said it was glad the two biggest international payments systems
had listened to its arguments to reverse Friday's suspension of services
as it was wrong to target the bank, which was not itself subject to any
Putin and Russian
media had mocked the sanctions, which did not stop the Russian military
completing its takeover of Ukraine's military bases in Crimea. Russia's
defence ministry said on Sunday that its flag was now flying over 189
Ukrainian military installations on the peninsula.
EU emphasized its support for the new pro-Western government in Kiev,
signing a political agreement with interim Prime Minister Arseniy
Yatseniuk last week.
promised financial aid for the government - which Moscow says came to
power by a coup to overthrow Yanukovich after he rejected an EU trade
deal in favor of closer ties with Russia - as soon as Kiev reaches a
deal with the International Monetary Fund. The IMF will report on