MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has voiced its commitment to implementing a statement adopted by the Russian and Ukrainian leaders late last year on the special status of the breakaway Trandnestr Republic in Moldova, the foreign minister said Tuesday.
"We will seek to implement all the agreements, including the joint statement that the Russian and Ukrainian leaders made in December that runs contrary to the current...economic blockade around Transdnestr," Sergei Lavrov said.
In their joint statement, Vladimir Putin and Viktor Yushchenko advocated a special legal status for Transdnestr that would not violate the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Moldova. They said Russia and Ukraine, as guarantors of a peaceful resolution of the conflict, would work together and coordinate their policies.
Lavrov's statement follows Ukraine's recent decision to introduce new customs regulations requiring that all goods entering Ukraine from Transdnestr have an official Moldovan stamp. The authorities of Transdnestr, which lies between Ukraine and Moldova, said losses sustained from the new rules ran into the tens of millions of dollars.
Lavrov said he hoped Western politicians, who had welcomed the new Ukrainian measures, agreed with Moldova, would understand the real situation.
"They will study the facts and realize that they are hailing measures that have caused and will cause suffering to people unless the situation is brought back to normal," he said.
Russian diplomats have repeatedly urged Moldova and Ukraine to review the new regime, which has been seen by Russia as an attempt to exert economic pressure on Transdnestr, which broke away from Moldova in the wake of the collapse of the U.S.S.R.
A group of Russian experts visited Tiraspol, the capital of Transdnestr, and concluded that the situation could lead to a serious economic crisis in the province.
"Ukraine and Moldova are basically moving toward the economic isolation of Transdnestr in circumvention of the agreements that all the parties assumed under the Moscow Memoranrum of 1997, which granted Transdnestr the right to pursue independent economic activity," Lavrov said.
In 1997, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Transdnestr signed a memorandum stipulating special status for Transdnestr within Moldova. Both sides pledged not to use force, but to negotiate agreements with Russia and Ukraine as guarantors, along with the assistance of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an association of former Soviet republics.