Publications in Ukraine and Georgia posted the reaction of the United States Department of State to Russia’s cooperation, without the consent of Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, with the illegal regimes for organizing its Duma elections, IPN reports.
“The United States regrets Russia’s repressive actions that undermined the freeness, fairness, and credibility of its Duma elections, and we condemn Russia’s organization of polling stations on the territories of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine without their consent,” Spokesman for U.S. Department of State Ned Price tweeted.
Commenting on the act of defiance of international law, Vladimir Socor, a Senior Fellow of the Jamestown Foundation, said such “electoral operations” have been made possible by Russia’s systematic though illegal “passportization” of residents of these occupied territories.
From the standpoint of international law, these territories belong to Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine, respectively; and their residents are technically citizens of those countries. From Russia’s standpoint, however, Crimea belongs to Russia; Abkhazia and South Ossetia are “independent states”; while Donbas and Transnistria are Russian-occupied de facto, although Russia officially denies having seized these territories from Ukraine and Moldova, respectively.
Russia opened 27 voting sections in Transnistria, a record number, apparently calculated to maximize the turnout among the 220,000 Russian-passport holders in that territory. For comparison, Russia legally opened 16 voting sections in the vastly larger Germany. This operation was conducted unlawfully on what is internationally recognized (even by Russia) as Moldovan territory, and without the Moldovan government’s consent.
Although Russia had scheduled the voting well in advance, the three targeted countries failed to prepare a coordinated response; and they are failing again to coordinate their protests after the fact.
Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have responded to this common challenge in separate ways. Moldova’s MFA statement is the weakest by far. It takes merely the form of a comment by the ministry’s press bureau, the lowest available level; it is addressed not to Russia directly but to the public in general. The statement merely expresses “regret over the Russian side’s action that does not correspond with the principle of Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. And Chisinau’s missive makes no mention of Ukraine, Georgia, their Russian-occupied territories, or solidarity among these three countries in their common predicament, said Vladimir Socor.