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Moldova expels Russian diplomat after Russian election held in Transnistria

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 19, 2024 2:05 PM 2 min read
People stand outside a so-called "congress of deputies" in Tiraspol on Feb. 28, 2024. (STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
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Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popsoi announced on March 19 that a Russian diplomat had been expelled from the country after Russian presidential elections were held in Transnistria, a region internationally recognized as part of Moldova.

Russian troops have occupied Transnistria since the early 1990s when Russia invaded the region under the pretext of protecting ethnic Russians.

"The Russian ambassador, Oleg Vasnetsov, has been summoned to the Foreign Ministry," Popsoi said on X.

"The Moldovan side expressed its protest against the presidential elections held by Russia in the Transnistrian region, against Moldovan authorities' stance."

"A diplomat was declared persona non grata," Popsoi said.

Russia conducted a pseudo-democratic presidential election on March 15-17 that granted Vladimir Putin, who has been in power since 1999, six more years in office.

News emerged shortly before the election that Russia was opening polling stations in Transnistria.

The Russian authorities also organized the election in regions of Ukraine under Russian occupation.

The EU "does not and never will recognize either the holding of these so-called elections" in occupied Ukraine, Josep Borrell, the European Union's top diplomat, said in a statement on behalf of the EU on March 18. The U.S., U.K., and Canada also denounced Russia for holding the illegal vote.

What danger does Transnistria pose to Ukraine, Moldova?
When there was no mention of Transnistria — Moldova’s Russia-led breakaway region — in Vladimir Putin’s speech on Feb. 29, Moldovans sighed with relief. A day prior, the leaders of the unrecognized breakaway entity, sandwiched between Ukraine and Moldova, had asked Russia for “protection” — a plea…
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