Putin reportedly promises to "help" Moldova's pro-Russia Gagauz region

Putin reportedly promises to
Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to support Moldova's Gagauz region at a meeting with its governor Evghenia Gutul in Sochi. / gagauzia.md
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest March 8, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to support the Gagauz region and the Gagauz people in defending their “legitimate rights and international position”, according to the governor of Moldova’s pro-Russian autonomous region Gagauzia, Evghenia Gutul. 

Gutul’s announcement comes amid repeated warnings from officials in Chisinau that Moscow is carrying out a hybrid campaign to destabilise Moldova. 

Gutul met Putin at a youth festival in the Russian city of Sochi on March 6. 

“I informed Vladimir Vladimirovici [Putin] about the illegal actions of the Moldovan authorities, who are taking revenge on us for our civic position and loyalty to national interests. Chisinau gradually takes away our prerogatives, limits the budget, violates legal rights, and causes instability and destabilisation in Gagauzia and the entire country,” she wrote on social media after the meeting. 

“The Russian leader promised to support Gagauzia and the Gagauz people in defending our legitimate rights, attributions and positions in the international arena," Gutul added. 

The Russian press reported more succinctly about the meeting between Putin and Guțul: "Putin spoke briefly with the leader of Gagauzia on the sidelines of the International Youth Festival," the TASS agency reported.

Gutul is openly backed by fugitive oligarch Ilan Shor, who in turn has been repeatedly accused of accepting funds from Moscow and was behind a series of anti-government protests in Moldova. 

Although the recent congress in Moldova’s other pro-Russian region Transnistria failed to convey a radical secessionist message, pro-Russian forces in Moldova have visibly become more active recently.

The president of the unrecognised Transnistria republic, Vadim Krasnoselski, met Russia’s ambassador Oleg Vasnetsov also on March 6 to complain about the negative effects of Moldova’s efforts to join the European Union.

He accused the authorities in Chisinau of violating the agreements previously agreed upon on the 5+2 platform. Efforts to resolve the frozen Transnistria conflict through the platform — which included both Russia and Ukraine — broke down after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. 

The Russian authorities have generally taken a low-level communication strategy in regard to Transnistria, a region that Russia itself has not recognised yet. But the Kremlin has used the region to undermine political stability in Moldova and is expected to exploit all opportunities in this regard.

Thus, Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Russian presidency, commented in an informal context about helping Transnistria settle its problems “preferably through political dialogue”.

“The people who are in Transnistria live in very harsh conditions. Of course, they are in great need of help. Russia is open to this help, but we prefer until the last moment to solve any problem through dialogue, political dialogue," said Peskov.

At the so-called congress of "deputies at all levels" from Transnistria, which met last week in Tiraspol at Krasnoselski’s request, an official resolution was passed calling for Russia's "protection" against what he described as being a concerted pressure on the Transnistrian economy from the Moldovan government.