World View: Romania Demands Explanation from Russia for Bomber Threat

This morning's key headlines from

  • Romania demands explanation from Russia for bomber threat
  • Russia's Rogozin says that Moldova seized Transnistria secession signatures
  • Violence increasing in Ukraine ahead of referendum

Romania demands explanation from Russia for bomber threat

Romania's foreign ministry is demanding an explanation from Russia concerning a threat made by Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, after his plane was refused entry into Romania's airspace, to return with a bomber. Rogozin's plane was refused entry because Rogozin is on the list of Russian officials who are the targets of European and American sanctions that were imposed as a result of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Rogozin was returning from Transnistria (Transdniestria), a small Russian-speaking region within Romanian-speaking Moldova on the far west border of Ukraine. Activists in Transnistria say they would like repeat the events in Crimea, and become part of the Russian Federation after seceding from Moldova. Rogozin visited these activists on Friday as part of the celebration of Victory Day on the 69th anniversary of Nazi surrender on May 9, 1945.

As he left Chisinau Airport in Moldova, Rogozin's plane first entered Ukraine's air space, but the plane was met by Ukrainian warplanes and was forced to return to Chisinau. Next, the plane attempted to circumvent Ukraine by traveling through Romania and Bulgaria, but Romania refused the request because of the EU sanctions.

In response, Rogozin, who is apparently a heavy twitter use, tweeted:

"Romania has closed its air space for my plane, upon the U.S. request, Ukraine doesn't allow me to pass through again. Next time I'll fly on board TU-160."

The Tupolev TU-160 'Blackjack' bomber is a strategic bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear missiles.

Romania's Defense Ministry responded with the following statement:

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken note with surprise that today, May 10th, 2014 the Russian Federation’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin tweeted that “Upon US request, Romania has closed its airspace for my plane. Ukraine doesn't allow me to pass through again. Next time I'll fly on board TU-160.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs feels that a Russian Deputy Prime Minister threatening to use a strategic bomber is a very serious threat in the current regional context where the Russian Federation has violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and separatist forces are committing grave violations of public order in the neighboring state.

In this context the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requests that the authorities in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry, provide public clarification whether the statements quoted from Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin are the official position of the Russian Federation with regard to Romania as a Member State of the EU and NATO.

At the same time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminds that Romania has unequivocally supported the sanctions regime instated by the European Union with respect to actions that undermine or threaten Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence."

There are still a couple of mysteries surrounding this saga. First, how did Rogozin travel from Moscow to Chisinau on Thursday. VOR says that his plane traveled through Bulgaria and Romania, but didn't explain why he was permitted to do that. Second, how did Rogozin travel back from Chisinau to Moscow? VOR says he's back in Moscow, and speculates that he took an ordinary passenger plane. Voice of Russia and Romania Ministry of Defense

Russia's Rogozin says that Moldova seized Transnistria secession signatures

There's apparently more to the above story about the travels of Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin. Rogozin is claiming that when Ukraine's warplanes forced Rogozin's plane to make a U-turn and return to Chisinau airport in Moldova, boxes of signatures collected by secessionist activists were seized. According to a Rogozin tweet on Saturday:

"Moldovan security services are on our plane and seizing boxes with Transdniestrian people’s signatures for reunification with Russia."

It's been reported for several weeks that secessionists have been collecting these signatures, hoping to force a referendum that would permit Transnistria to secede from Moldova and join the Russian Federation, following the example of Crimea. But if Rogozin's tweet is correct, then all of those boxes of signatures have now fallen into the hands of Moldovan security forces. Itar-Tass (Moscow) and New Eastern Europe Journal

Violence increasing in Ukraine ahead of referendum

Pro-Russian separatists plan to go ahead with secessionist referendums in two cities, Donetsk and Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, despite a call on Wednesday by Russia's president Vladimir Putin to postpone the referendums. It's now believed by many politicians that Putin's call was made to protect himself from further Western sanctions, rather than for any desire to see the referendum called off.

This follows a day of violence in the city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, which resulted in 20 deaths following clashes between government forces and anti-government activists. Putin did his best to fire up pro-Russian nationalist sentiments by coming to Crimean and speaking to the screaming crowds:

"There is a lot of work to be done, but we will overcome all the difficulties because we are together. This means we have become even stronger, and I congratulate you on the great victory."

Putin said he was sure that 2014 would become known in history as the year Crimea's people decided to return to Russia and the memory of their ancestors. CNN and VOA

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