What is Transnistria?
Transnistria covers an area of 4,163 square kilometers in Moldova between the east bank of the Dniester River and the country’s border with Ukraine. The vast majority of the 500,000 population are Russians (Russian speakers), although residents ethnically identify as Moldovan, Ukrainian, or Russian (in the latter case, about 30% of the total population).
Attempts to make Moldova the official language of Moldova in 1989 have alarmed the people of Transnistria.
Transnistria was declared a republic on October 29, 1990. Its capital is Traspole, which occupies about 12% of Moldovan territory and guarantees 23% of the country’s industrial output, and controls crucial transport routes and pipelines.
For this reason, Moldova insists on regaining control of this free region, which is not recognized by any country, including Russia.
Fighting intensified in March 1992 and lasted until the July ceasefire. However, the conflict remained dormant until 1993, when local separatists gained Russian support.
Under the ceasefire agreement, a team of Russian soldiers (currently about 1,500) was sent to Transnistria with the formal task of establishing a peacekeeping force. The Russian team in Transnistria aims to control ammunition depots and warehouses, and its military suitability is uncertain.
Since then, the region has insisted on secession from the former Soviet republic of Moldova, which declared independence in 1991. Transnistria retains many Soviet portraits on its flag, including hammers and sickles. But peace prevailed in most areas.
Disputes must be resolved
The Russian-speaking region has rejected the annexation of Moldova by Romania, which the Romanian people want. According to several sources, the disagreement that provoked the 1992 civil war with a balance of 700 to 1,500 people.
The weak ceasefire of 21 July 1992 granted Transnistria the status of “special status” in exchange for independence, but the region continued to defend its objectives, while Moldova insisted on the unification of the two separate regions. And Moscow, by asserting its “special status,” accused Russia of inciting the independence of the region.
What happened at the end of April?
Among the “frozen conflict” areas of the former Soviet Union, this long stretch of eastern Moldova has been the most stable over the past three decades.
However, recent bombings in Thrissur have raised fears that the Ukrainian war could spread to other parts of the country. And a new conflict will pose a serious challenge to Moldova, one of the poorest nations and one of the weakest armies in Europe.
On Monday, April 25, several explosions hit the State Defense Ministry building. The building was vacant due to the Orthodox Easter holiday and there were no injuries. Official sources said the attack was carried out using rocket grenade launchers (RPGs). On Tuesday morning, two explosions at a radio-television center in Miyak caused extensive damage to two powerful antennas. Actions not requested.
The head of the self-proclaimed republic of Transnistria, Vadim Krasnoshelsky, referred to the “three terrorist attacks” and suggested on Tuesday that the operation was carried out on Kiev’s orders and called for the implementation of counter-terrorism security measures. 15 days warning including installation of checkpoints at city entrances. An attack was carried out on “an army unit” in Barkani.
Russian-speaking officials have maintained calculated ambiguity about the war in neighboring Ukraine, which could have catastrophic consequences for their region if military involvement occurs, and when the economic situation in the region worsens due to import restrictions imposed by Moldova.
The Moldovan government understands that the attacks are aimed at creating “an excuse to strengthen the security situation” in the secluded region, which is beyond its control, but said there were no signs of an immediate Russian offensive in the region.
“Our analysis is that there are tensions between different factions in Transnistria (…). Moldova did not join the Western sanctions against Russia, which were decided after the invasion of Ukraine, but the tension in Transnistria poses a serious problem for the small Balkan state.
Does Russia have ambitions in this region?
Russia does not recognize the independence of Transnistria, as happened in the secluded areas of South Ossetia, Abkhazia or eastern Ukraine, such as Donetsk and Lukansk.
The recognition of these regions came after Russia and Georgia went to war or justified the invasion of Ukraine in February.
The conflict in Transnistria could once again change the Kremlin’s political calculations. Russia’s security policy dictates that it has the right to protect Russian “ethnic” peoples around the world. However, achieving the goal of controlling the whole of southern Ukraine, especially on the Black Sea coast, would lead to significant wars, including the important port of Odessa. Russian troops will certainly face great opposition, but an attack from this region will help capture the nearby strategic city of Odessa by the Black Sea.
At the same time, due to the poor preparation of the Russian troops stationed there, the researchers agreed that Ukraine could quickly capture this territory. But if Russia captures Odessa, the secession will be integrated into the occupied territories of the Kremlin in Ukraine, with dire consequences across the country.
Moldova is constitutionally neutral, so Russia cannot argue that it wants to join NATO to justify the invasion, as Russian President Vladimir Putin did with Ukraine. But the expansion in Moldova would allow Russia to secure its presence on the border with NATO member state Romania. On March 16, the Council of Europe declared the territory of Transnistria “under Russian occupation”.
The path to freedom
On December 1, 1991, Transnistria held presidential and independent elections, not recognized by Moldova or the international community, which elected Igor Smirno as president.
Four years later, on December 24, 1995, a bicameral parliament of 67 members was elected and a constitutional referendum was held, with 81% support for an independent constitution.
In the December 2005 legislative vote, Transnistria again challenged Moldova, in which ten parties competed in favor of all freedoms, including the main rivals, the Republic and Renewal.
On September 17, 2006, a referendum on joining Russia or Moldova was voted “yes” (97%).
Following the Russian military invasion of neighboring Ukraine on February 24, the Moldovan parliament declared a state of emergency amid fears that Russia would mobilize its troops stationed in Transnistria in support of the attack on the city of Odessa, less than 100 kilometers away.
More than 20,000 tons of Soviet weapons have been in Transnistria since the end of the Cold War.
On March 5, after Moldova formally applied for membership of the European Union, the authorities of the self-proclaimed Republic of Transnistria recognized its independence.
“Hardcore explorer. Extreme communicator. Professional writer. General music practitioner. Prone to fits of apathy.”