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Dangers And Conflict Resolution Efforts In Moldova

Above photo: Antennas of the ‘Mayak’ radio centre were knocked out. AFP.

Recent statements by Russian military authorities such as General Roustan Minnekaiev involved in the Ukraine conflict have drawn attention to what was often considered as a “frozen conflict” in Moldova.

The situation of the Transnistrian region in Moldova has been considered as a frozen conflict due to its unresolved but static condition since the violent confrontation in June 1992.

Transnistria is de facto independent with many state-like attibutes and calls itself officially the Moldovian Republic of Dniestr.  However, no other state, including the Russian Federation has recognized it as an independent state.  There are, however, some 1500 Russian military permanently present in Transnistria.  Transnistria had some 706, 000 inhabitants in 1991 at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union.  Today, there are some 450,000 – probably less.  Many, especially young people, have left to study or work abroad.  Many in Transnistria have Russian passports in order to travel.  The Transnistrian economy is in the hands of a small number of persons closely linked to the government.

There have been a number of negotiations between representatives of the government of Moldova and those of the government of Transnistria but which have led to no agreement as to a possible reintegration of Transnistria.  Official negotiations have been complemented by Track II  efforts, informal discussions in which members of civil society also participated.  The newly elected, in November 2020, President of Moldova Ms Maia Sandu has been actively speaking of the reintegration of Transnistria into Moldova.  Her position has been strongly supported by the government of Ukraine which sees the parallel with their situation concerning the two People’s Republics: the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Luhansk.

There is a danger that the frozen conflict of Moldova begins to melt.  Russian military authorities involved in the Ukraine conflict have spoken of a possible creation of a land route between Crimea and Transnistria.  In addition, there have been recently a number of rocket attacks, possibly by Ukrainian forces, on to Transnistria damaging radio-TV towers used by Russian broadcasting.  While it is unlikely that the fighting in Ukraine spreads to Transnistria and Moldova, the situation must be closely watched and preventive discussions put into place.

Rene Wadlow is the President of the Association of World Citizens.

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