Top Russian official vows support on visit to breakaway Transdniestr

Russia's deputy prime minister visited Moldova's breakaway Russian-speaking region of Transdniestr on Friday (09/05/2014) in the most senior visit since the start of the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin vowed support and protection from Ukraine as he visited and watched a military parade in the city of Tiraspol in an apparent endorsement of pro-Russian separatists there.

Transdniestr is a strip of land wedged between the Dniestr river and the border with Ukraine. It declared independence from Moldova in 1990 but is not recognised by any state.

"Russia as the guarantor of peace and security on the Dniestr will do everything so that you don't end up in isolation," Rogozin told the crowd at celebrations marking victory over the Nazis in World War II, which is celebrated on May 9 across the ex-Soviet Union.

He said Kiev authorities were harming the people of the overwhelmingly pro-Russian region by severely restricting access across the Ukrainian border.

"Russia does not just monitor the situation. We will do everything necessary for Transdniestrians... as the guarantor of security of the Transdniestr republic," Rogozin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

The crisis in neighbouring Ukraine has sparked fears of a return of violence to the region while Western states have voiced concerns that it could be the next target in Moscow's sights.

Rogozin is militantly anti-Western and an outspoken supporter of a more aggressive foreign policy who hailed Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March. - AFP