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Putin Demands Measures To Lift Transdniester 'Blockade'

Russian soldiers man a border station near Benderi, in Moldova's breakaway Transdniaster, in this 2013 photograph.
Russian soldiers man a border station near Benderi, in Moldova's breakaway Transdniaster, in this 2013 photograph.
The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone conversation on March 31 that measures were needed to remove the "blockade" on Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region.

Putin made a similar claim of a Transdniester "blockade" in a telephone call with U.S. President Barack Obama on March 28.

Moldova, the United States, and the European Union all dismiss the Russian claim.

The mainly Russian-speaking Transdniester declared independence from Moldova in 1990.

The two sides fought a brief war in 1992 that ended when the Russian military intervened on the side of Transdniester.

Transdniester's independence is not recognized by any country.

Russia still has some 1,400 troops in Transdniester.

There has been growing concern of a possible Russian incursion across Ukraine to occupy Transdniester.

Moscow repeatedly alleged that Russians were being persecuted in Crimea before Russian troops and "self-defense" forces occupied the peninsula ahead of a referendum on secession and union with Russia.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, in the Moldovan capital on March 30, pledged $10 million "to support Moldovan border security efforts...on top of money that we have been providing for a number of years to support nonproliferation objectives and security objectives on the borders."

"This is not a blockade by any means," Nuland added, saying that "commerce and trade is continuing...."

The head of the European Union delegation to Moldova, Pirkka Tapiola, said his staff met last week with representatives of the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) and that he could say with certainty that there was no blockade, according to RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and RFE/RL's Moldovan Service
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