Kiev and Chișinău Are Preparing A “Small Victorious War” in Transnistria

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


The clouds over the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic (TMR) already for more than two years have become dense – since the moment the President of Ukraine Poroshenko, being in Romania (!), started talking about coordinating with Bucharest actions for the “reintegration” of Transnistria into Moldova, and about his readiness – together with Romanians – “to help the sovereign and independent Moldova to restore its territorial integrity and to reintegrate the Transnistria region”.

Everybody understands that the Ukrainian President couldn’t decide on a such thing just on his own initiative: he was pushed into the embrace of Moldavian unionists by American “friends of Moldova”, aka they are also “friends of Ukraine”. The motive is the same: using the hands of Ukrainians, Moldavians, and Romanians to drag Russia into a military conflict and to change the format of the peacekeeping mission on the Dniester. Thus, Romania together with Moldavian unionists will solve their problems, and Ukraine – exclusively the problems of others.

Since then the Presidents of Moldova, Transnistria, the US (these countries together with Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE are included in the negotiation “5+2” format on the settlement of the Transnistrian crisis) changed, but time showed: Kiev is indeed preparing to unfreeze the conflict in Transnistria.

On October 5th, 2017, Ukraine and Moldova signed an agreement on joint control at international and interstate checkpoints on the Moldavian-Ukrainian border. The Prime Minister of Ukraine Vladimir Groisman stated that Ukraine is interested in “preserving Chișinău’s course on European integration” and “the successful realization of our common civilizational choice” (read as: turn to the West). I.e. the Ukrainian side intends to help the Moldavian parliamentary majority (which isn’t supported by the people) and the government to blockade Transnistria because of a “common civilizational choice” that isn’t shared by either Transnistrian residents nor by the most part of the population of Moldova.

The power in Chișinău – controlled by the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc – decided to lean on Poroshenko’s shoulder concerning the situation with the Transnistrian Moldavan Republic in the hope that an escalation in tensions will prevent the socialists (Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova – PSRM) – who will be a part of parliamentary elections in 2018 with high ratings – from taking the country under their control. For Moldova a victory for PSRM would mean a refusal of unionizm and a pivot to economic projects initiated by Russia, including the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as chances for a peaceful resolution of the Transnistrian crisis. The alliance between Moldavian pro-Western parties, which formed the government, practically has no chance of victory in the election, and it means that Plahotniuc and his marionettes have only one exit – to shake-up the armed conflict in Transnistria. And the Ukrainian business partner of the Moldavian puppeteer, who launched war in the DPR and LPR and shouts every day about “war with Russia”, can help here.

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Poroshenko himself is glad to endeavour for Plahotniuc: firstly, the hot phase of war with Donbass is being restrained by the Minsk Agreements, and nationalist-radicals demand blood; secondly, in the Transnistrian Moldavan Republic there are Russian peacekeepers (a task force of Russian troops) and the shouting sounding from Kiev about “war with Russia” in this way will receive its confirmation; thirdly, in the West it will be again possible to ask for money for an “army” and to solicit guarantees of the expansion of his own power.

In September, 2017, the First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Sergey Yarovoy reported that the National Guard took the border with Transnistria under its control “for the purpose of providing law and order in the border regions”. “The National Guard of Ukraine is a parallel army subordinated to the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, the so-called volunteer battalions are included in its structure, including the ‘Azov’ regiment”.

The President of the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon called the Ukrainian maneuvers at the Transnistrian border “a provocation by Ukraine aimed at Transnistria and at increasing the risk of the emergence of an armed conflict”.

“…In Chișinău the President looks towards Moscow, but the parliament and government – towards Washington; Poroshenko is on the side of the latter. I.e. Poroshenko strengthens the anti-Dodon position,” considers the Ukrainian political analyst Konstantin Bondarenko. The games of the Ukrainian President on the side of Plahotniuc and his pocket Deputies and ministers mean that the Ukrainian side decided to leave the negotiation “5+2” format, about which it is unlikely that Kiev officially notified someone. Poroshenko doesn’t need to accustom himself: since he has lied for years about his commitment to the Minsk Agreements in the “Normandy format”, then in the same way he will lie about his faithfulness to the “5+2” scheme. One format more, one format less – what’s the difference?

Transnistria tries to reach out to the Ukrainian leadership. “Concerning Kiev’s fear about the deployment on our territory of Russian troops, there isn’t rotation of the task force of Russian troops here any more – replacement soldiers from the Russian Federation aren’t allowed neither by Ukraine nor Moldova to cross the border, they are stopped at the airport of Chișinău and sent back,” stated the chairman of the Supreme Council of Transnistria Aleksandr Shcherba. “…In the Joint Control Commission (JCC) controlling the security zone on the Dniester, besides representatives of peacekeepers of Moldova, Transnistria, and Russia there is also an observer from Ukraine. He informs his authorities about the situation. And the JCC monitors the entire zone of contact between the sides (Moldova and Transnistria) across the Dniester. It is impossible to have hidden bases or to carry out secret re-deployment of military units. So Transnistria, including also the task force of Russian troops, can’t be a source of a threat for Ukraine”. These words fully reflect the situation in the Transnistrian Moldavan Republic, but Kiev doesn’t hear them.

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The President of Transnistria Vadim Krasnoselsky looks interesting against the background of these events. Recently he received a Ukrainian delegation headed by the special representative concerning the Transnistria settlement Viktor Kryzhanovsky, to who he said: “The problem with many politicians and journalists is that they try to divide Transnistrian people strictly into those who are ‘for’ and those who are ‘against’. But there is a third category – those who want to preserve good-neighbourly relations both with Russia and Ukraine. Unfortunately, two powers came face-to-face in geopolitical problems and there is no end in sight. Why should Transnistria be a hostage of these relations? I recently invited Ukrainian journalists in order for them to see the real situation. They went across Tiraspol and Bender, asking people where the Russian tanks are based. It appeared that they weren’t anywhere. None of the journalists said that Transnistria poses a military threat in relation to Ukraine”.

It is strange that the President of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic calls Transnistria a “hostage” of relations between Russia and Ukraine, while in front of his eyes Ukraine makes the blockade of the republic more widespread, Chișinău doesn’t stop trying to force out the joint group of Russian troops from the Transnistria region, and leave the agreement of 1992 “on the Principles for a Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Dniester Region of the Republic of Moldova”.

The Russian peacekeepers in the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic as of the middle of the summer [2017 – ed] actually are in a state of siege. The siege is organized by Moldova together with Ukraine, which since 2014 doesn’t allow the trucks of the peacekeeping mission of the Russian Federation to travel through its territory to Transnistria and the peacekeepers themselves. In general, all this year the Moldavian authorities, except for the President, try to fan the fire in Transnistria: the parliament adopts a declaration on the need for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria; a decision on the illegality of the presence of Russian peacekeepers in the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic was made by judges of the Constitutional Court of the Moldovan Republic; five Russian diplomats were expelled from the country; the special representative of the President of Russia on Transnistria Dmitry Rogozin isn’t allowed in Moldova, then is declared persona non grata; the United Nations General Assembly accept the appeal to include the question about the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic in the agenda of the General Assembly.

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Chișinău officially isn’t leaving the agreement of 1992, but actually ignores it. And Poroshenko participates in the creation of joint points of control on the border with the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic and through the Minister of Internal Affairs pushed the National Guard forward to Transnistria. At this time the President of Transnistria tries to look for something resembling a good neighbor in Ukraine, and stages quests for Ukrainian journalists in Tiraspol and Bender in search of Russian tanks! And the situation in Donbass hasn’t taught him anything, where these same Ukrainian journalists see Russian troops, and the war with their fellow citizens is called the “war with Russia”! Perhaps, the appearance of Ukrainian national guardsmen near the border of Transnistria will return a sense of reality to the leaders of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic. If Poroshenko was going to assist Plahotniuc in the restoration of the territorial integrity of Moldova, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine herded its troops to the Transnistrian border “to provide law and order”, it is only left to wait for provocations. The Transnistrian Moldovan Republic is clamped in Ukrainian-Moldavian vice and acts as the hostage of Chișinău, expecting with the assistance of Kiev to completely finish its pivot to the West with the help of a “small victorious war” in Transnistria.

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