Moldova’s President Nicolae Timofti has reiterated calls for Russian forces to withdraw from Moldova’s breakaway Transdniester region.
In an interview with RFE/RL in Prague on April 25, Timofti compared the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine’s Crimea region in February to the crisis in 1992 over Moldova’s Transdniester region.
"I want to tell you, in fact, that in the Republic of Moldova we've been through this scenario in 1992 and we have Russian troops on our territory, which are there against our will,” Timofti said.
“We want these troops to be withdrawn,” he said. “There are also international agreements which oblige Russia to withdraw its troops from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, but this has not happened."
Timofti told RFE/RL that he thinks his country would have “a higher level of security, maybe full security” if Moldova had already joined the NATO alliance.
Nevertheless, he said Moldova’s relationship with NATO is “very good.”
“We are taking part in NATO peacekeeping missions,” Timofti said. “On March 8, Moldovan troops were sent to Kosovo to take part in a peacekeeping mission."
Timofti told RFE/RL that there are “serious concerns about Russia’s behavior” in the Black Sea region -- including concerns in the Republic of Moldova.
“I read in the Russian press that before the events in Crimea, there were discussions in military and strategic circles in Moscow about modifying the borders of the former Soviet republics,” Timofti explained.
“Journalists may also be concerned that this scenario could also be applied to the Republic of Moldova."
In March, after Russia annexed Crimea and masssed Russian forces on Ukraine's eastern borders, NATO’s top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, warned that Russia could try to take action over Transdniester.
Separatists in Transdniester, a thin strip of land between Moldova and western Ukraine, declared independence from then-Soviet Moldova in 1990.
Moldovan forces and Moscow-backed Transdniester fought a short war in 1992 over fears that newly independent Moldova would seek reunification with neighboring Romania.
The conflict ended with a cease-fire agreement after Russian troops in the region intervened on the side of the separatists.
Some 1,400 Russian troops remain in Transdniester. Transdniester's independence is recognized by no country.
With reporting by RFE/RL Moldovan Service Director Oana Serafim in Prague