Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin on May 23 met Yury Zubakov, the deputy leader of the Russian National Security Council, to discuss the possibility of reopening talks aimed at settling Moldova's conflict with its separatist region of Transdniester. Ahead of the meeting, Voronin told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that "the keys to a settlement in Transdniester are in Moscow." Voronin blamed criminal gangs for delays in finding a solution, saying they want to keep Transdniester a "black hole" for smuggling.
Voronin called on Russia to show the political will to face down the criminals and unblock talks. He said he hopes a resolution can be reached by 2009. A document leaked to the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation in April suggested that Voronin and Zubakov were on the verge of signing a bilateral agreement that would have reunited Transdniester with Moldova but would also have given Transdniester both very substantial autonomy and a substantial say over events in the rest of Moldova.