Chisinau on February 22 formally accused Moscow of seeking to legitimize the government of the breakaway region of Transdniester. Chisinau was responding to a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry on February 21 that referred to Igor Smirnov as the "president" of Transdniester. The Moldovan Foreign Ministry said that by using titles normally reserved for representatives of independent states, Russia "is trying to artificially create the appearance of legitimacy and mislead the public opinion and the international community." In January, Russia referred to the head of Transdniester's foreign policy as "foreign minister." Chisinau said that "such propaganda raises questions and suspicions regarding Russia's objectivity...as a mediator in the settlement negotiations in the Transdniester conflict."
The diplomatic spat comes at a particularly sensitive time, as talks on the final status of Kosova have thrown a spotlight on Russia's position on the future of regions, like Transdniester, that broke away from the states that emerged from the breakup of the Soviet Union. Controversially, Russia still has around 1,500 troops stationed in Transdniester.