06MOSCOW4405, VARNITSA PORT SEIZURE: RUSSIAN VIEWS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW4405 2006-04-25 11:09 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO3722
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #4405 1151109
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 251109Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4800
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 004405 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/25/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PBTS MD RS
SUBJECT: VARNITSA PORT SEIZURE:  RUSSIAN VIEWS 
 
REF: A) CHISINAU 455 B) MOSCOW 4198 C) KIEV 1444 
 
Classified By: Minister Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk Augustine. 
  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
 
1. (C) We raised the April 21 Transnistrian seizure of 
Varnitsa Port (ref. a) with Russian Transnistria negotiator 
Nesterushkin April 25.  Nesterushkin compared the seizure to 
the incident several years ago when Moldovan farmers tried to 
farm land on the Left Bank after receiving privatization 
vouchers from Chisinau.  Such events are common in the many 
"gray areas" left by the cease-fire lines, he claimed, and 
should be settled by "civilized" dialogue between the sides. 
He implied that such incidents are too common and too trivial 
to be worth a discussion between the U.S. Embassy and the 
Russian MFA. We countered that the issue was worth raising: 
in other conflicts, seizure of disputed territory has led to 
bloodshed.  Nesterushkin said that fortunately this is not 
the case in Moldova -- but without a functioning negotiating 
process (i.e., as long as the Moldovans and Ukrainians 
enforce their customs rules), who could say what might happen 
in the future?  He did, however, appreciate knowing that the 
U.S. considered the incident significant. 
 
2. (C) Nesterushkin claimed to have no detailed information 
on the circumstances surrounding the seizure.  He said he had 
only heard the "cries" of each side blaming the other, and he 
hoped the Joint Control Commission would be able to sort 
through the claims.  Despite his professed lack of knowledge, 
however, he painted a detailed picture "based on 
speculation:" that the port managers of Bender decided they 
wanted the rent from Varnitsa which had flowed to Bender in 
Soviet times, and authorized a local company to exploit 
Varnitsa and pay them the rent.  The seizure, in 
Nesterushkin's view, might have been the company's guard 
force trying to take control of the facility.  Nesterushkin 
categorized the incident as a "management dispute."  We said 
that the Moldovan version of events is far different, and 
reiterated that such disputes can be destabilizing. 
Nesterushkin repeated that negotiations were necessary to 
resolve such issues. 
 
3. (C) Comment:  The incident comes conveniently soon after 
Nesterushkin's warning that the new customs regime was 
"radicalizing" Transnistria (ref. b) and preventing the 
resumption of negotiations.  We would read it as a reflection 
of the degree to which the customs regime has unsettled the 
Russians and Transnistrians. 
BURNS

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