(RIA Novosty) - By the end of the week, Moldova and Ukraine are to open border and customs control checkpoints between the self-proclaimed republic of Transdnestr in Moldova and Ukraine.

This will spell a complete economic blockade for the breakaway region, today's Novye Izvestia, a leading daily, reported.

Russian-led peacekeeping forces have controlled most of Transdnestr since 1992. Russia is in no hurry to withdraw its troops, claiming that equipment and materiel cannot be taken out because the regional authorities are blocking nay such move. Moscow also wants to defend the interests of its compatriots since 100,000 Russian citizens live there. Modest Kolerov, the head of the Kremlin Administration's department of inter-regional and cultural ties with foreign countries, confirmed this position a week ago.
Grigory Marakutsa, the speaker of the Transdnestr Supreme Council (parliament), said Russia had promised to set aside $22 million in financial aid when he visited Russia recently.

Speaking in Moscow July 3, Kolerov said: "The problem of recognizing the sovereignty of self-proclaimed republics is the most important and principled issue today, and it must be solved."

Moscow has repeatedly given assurances to pro-Russian regions, only to leave them to their own devices later. The breakaway autonomy of Adzharia in Georgia was a case in point.

In 2000, Russia supported Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin after he declared an economic war on Transdnestr. However, Ukraine opposed that economic blockade because 200,000 Ukrainians live in the region. If it had not been for Kiev, local Ukrainians would have become beggars long ago, the paper wrote.

However, the situation has changed. Ukraine's president Viktor Yushchenko now prefers to side with Moldova. Moreover, Kiev views Russia as an enemy. Ukraine is now trying to pressure Transdnestr into making peace with Moldova on Chisinau's terms. Russia, though, is continuing to defend Tiraspol's interests.

Transdnestr does not care whether it will be controlled by Ukraine or Russia, so long as Moldova does not take it over. Consequently, Tiraspol has no choice but to believe Russia that is acting as its protector once again.


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