July 2, 2022

Moldova says reports that the Russian military's attempt to recruit its own citizens is dangerous

Moldova says reports that the Russian military’s attempt to recruit its own citizens is dangerous

CHISINAU (Reuters) – (This April 14 story in the title and first paragraph makes it clear that Moldova has not directly accused the Russian military, and corrects the day the minister made comments; in the fourth and fifth paragraphs adds the context of the minister’s statements and corrects the exact wording of the quote)

Moldova said on Wednesday that reports that the Russian military is trying to recruit Moldovan citizens are serious and that it regularly discusses all matters of concern with Russian officials, in response to a question about the war in Ukraine.

The comments came days after British military intelligence said Moscow was trying to replenish its forces in Ukraine by recruiting in the breakaway region of Transdniestria. Read more

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Transdniestria is a narrow strip of land controlled by pro-Russian separatists that runs along eastern Moldova and reaches about 25 miles (40 km) from the Ukrainian port of Odessa. Read more

In response to a question from local journalists about alleged Russian attempts to recruit people in Transdniestria, Moldovan Foreign Minister Nico Popescu said: “These are not actions that contribute to peace for all of us, for our compatriots, for our families, and they are dangerous things and should be discouraged.”

“There is a series of regular meetings between my colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ambassador of the Russian Federation, during which Moldova clearly states its position.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Reuters was unable to verify whether the Russian military was trying to recruit Moldovan citizens.

On Thursday, Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Hanna Maliar said that Russia is massing its forces in several regions, including Transdniestria, for “further escalation” in Ukraine.

Moldova said last month that it was monitoring the situation in Transdniestria, where an estimated 1,500 Russian soldiers are stationed, but that it has not seen major changes since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Read more

On Monday, the Transdniestrian authorities denied that Russia had made any military preparations on its territory that would threaten Ukraine. The region’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday about Maliar’s Ukrainian comments.

Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special operation” to destroy Ukraine’s military capabilities and root out what it sees as dangerous nationalists, but Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unjustified war of aggression.

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(Reporting by Alexander Tanas) Additional reporting by Natalia Zenets Writing by Alexander Winning Editing by William MacLean and Frances Kerry

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