Undermining the security of Russian soldiers in Moldova's breakaway region could spark a military confrontation with Moscow, FM Sergey Lavrov warns Chisinau.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned Moldova that threatening the security of Russian troops in the breakaway region of Transnistria will spark a military confrontation with Moscow.
"Everyone should understand that any action that would threaten the security of our troops (in Transnistria) would be considered under international law as an attack on Russia, as was the case in South Ossetia when our peacekeepers were attacked by (former Georgian president Mikheil) Saakashvili," Lavrov said on Thursday.
That incident, in 2008, resulted in a five-day war in which Russian forces seized several Georgian cities.
Shortly afterward, Moscow recognised South Ossetia and another Georgian breakaway territory, Abkhazia, as independent.
Russia has stationed peacekeeping troops in Transnistria since the early 1990s when an armed conflict saw pro-Russian separatists wrest most of the region from Moldovan control.
The government in Maldovan capital Chisinau, stressing it was committed to peaceful dialogue over the future of the region, said it would summon the acting Russian envoy to make clear its position.
READ MORE: What is happening in Transnistria and why does it matter?
Russia told to withdraw troops
Transnistria, which relies heavily on Moscow for support, reported a series of sporadic attacks in April, further raising tensions that were already high following Russia's intervention in Ukraine, which borders Moldova.
Daniel Voda, a spokesperson for the Moldovan Foreign Ministry, said the rights of all minorities — including Russian speakers — were guaranteed.
"Chisinau remains fully committed to peaceful dialogue in (Transnistria) and in calling Russia to withdraw troops stationed illegally on our territory. Any suggestion of a different approach is unfounded," he tweeted.
In order to "clarify the above," he said, Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu had ordered that the acting Russian ambassador be called in.
READ MORE: How a tiny breakaway state called Transnistria can alter the Ukraine crisis