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  Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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The leader of the self-proclaimed republic of Transdnestr in Moldova asked Russia for help in averting a crisis in the region Tuesday
The leader of the self-proclaimed republic of Transdnestr in Moldova asked Russia for help in averting a crisis in the region Tuesday. In an open letter, Igor Smirnov asked President Vladimir Putin, "as the head of a guarantor state to prevent a socio-economic crisis in Transdnestr and consider providing humanitarian aid to Transdnestr and boosting the peacekeeping mission of the Russian Federation." "As a result of Moldova's actions, backed by Ukraine, the region is facing a humanitarian catastrophe and a serious aggravation of the situation, which could lead to direct conflicts," Smirnov said in his letter. Moldova imposed new customs regulations in early March, requiring all Transdnestr goods bound for Ukraine to bear an official Moldovan stamp. The regulations were outlined in a joint communique adopted by the Moldovan and Ukrainian prime ministers on December 30, 2005, and endorsed by the Ukrainian Cabinet March 1. A coordinating center set up in Transdnestr said Monday the republic had lost $41.2 million since the new customs rules had been introduced and sustained an average of $5 million in losses every day. Moldovan and Ukrainian officials have said that the new rules are intended to eliminate smuggling and simplify the procedure for registering Transdnestr-based companies in Moldova's capital, Chisinau, thereby promoting trade with local businessmen. The move is the latest flare-up in the conflict over Transdnestr's status since an armed conflict broke out there in March 1992, when Moldova declared its independence from the Soviet Union and Transdnestr in turn proclaimed itself a republic. Russia intervened in the conflict at the Moldovan president's request and the Russian and Moldovan presidents signed a ceasefire agreement in the presence of the leader of Transdnestr in July 1992. Smirnov said the new regulations had blocked foreign economic activities in Transdnestr and affected transportation. "The Transdnestr economy is in a deep crisis," he said. Smirnov also asked the 55-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the world's largest regional security grouping, to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to Transdnestr. "We rely on your experience and understanding of the need to resolve the conflict on the basis of a constructive and equal dialogue between all sides and not by the methods of pressure and blockade," Smirnov said in a letter to OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht. Smirnov sent a similar letter to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko asking the country's authorities to respect the legal interests of Transdnestr people and act within the framework of international agreements. Meanwhile, Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of Russia's lower chamber of parliament, said Russia would send humanitarian aid to Transdnestr. "The governments of Russia, Moscow and the Moscow Region and the United Russia party are preparing a humanitarian cargo today," he said. Gryzlov, who is also a leader of pro-Kremlin United Russia, said medicines, baby food, cereals, canned meat, sugar and other products would be sent to Transdnestr. The speaker said 15 trucks would depart for Transdnestr Wednesday and expressed the hope that they would pass through Ukrainian territory unimpeded.
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