Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that Moscow and Bucharest have the potential to cooperate in the disputed Black Sea region.
A month ago, Russia sent a fleet of over 20 warships to launch multiple cruise missiles in the Black Sea after ignoring U.S. President Biden’s demand that it drop its military offensive against neighboring Ukraine.
The latest comments by the Russian president come amid tensions between Moscow and NATO’s Eastern European members over Russian activity in the region.
Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and other members have pushed for a larger allied military presence on the bloc’s eastern flank.
They condemned “:Russia’s aggressive actions” in their neighborhood, at a May 10 virtual summit in Bucharest.
“Russia’s aggressive actions and military build-up in the immediate vicinity of NATO, including the recent escalation in the Black Sea, on Ukraine’s borders and in the illegally annexed Crimea, as well as its aggressive hybrid activities, continue to threaten Euro-Atlantic security and challenge the rules-based international order,” a joint statement said.
However, in his address made to 23 new ambassadors in Moscow, the Russian president appeared to smooth over diplomatic and regional tensions.
“We rely on the development of mutually beneficial relations with Romania,” he said according to a press statement from the Kremlin welcoming Bucharest’s new envoy.
“ We are ready to work together on intensifying political, economic and humanitarian links. There is good cooperation potential with respect to the Black Sea region.”
Romania and Russia have historically cool relations although they share ties through the Orthodox churches which Russia has sought to capitalize on.
On May 15, Russia expelled Romania’s deputy military attache in Russia. Moscow said it was a retaliatory measure for Bucharest’s decision to expel Russian diplomat Alexey Grishaehv from Bucharest the month before.
Putin also hinted at a solution for a frozen conflict in the former Soviet republic of Moldova.
He said Moscow would “continue to search for a fair solution” for the breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester which would include an agreement on” a special, reliably guaranteed status” for the region based on “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova.”
Trans-Dniester broke away from Moldova in 1990 fearing it would reunite with neighboring Romania. A war in 1991 left 1,500 people dead.
Since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Russia has supported pro-Russian forces in neighboring republics.