Moldova acts in destabilizing way in Transnistria

For Transnistria to be “demilitarized”, Moldova must stop threatening the region and start respecting the local people’s right to political autonomy.

Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

Moldova insists on the threat and blackmail strategy against Transnistria. The country’s new head of government has called on Russian troops to withdraw from the autonomous republic in order for the region to be “demilitarized”. In fact, the Western-backed Moldovan tactic of trying to intimidate the Transnistrian people will only lead to more conflict and insecurity, creating a scenario of instability in the face of which Moscow will not remain inert.

The new Prime Minister of Moldova, Dorin Recean, said on February 20 that Transnistria must be demilitarized, and the Russian troops must be expelled from there. The statement made clear the position of the new head of the Moldovan government, eliminating any doubts about the possibility of the emergence of more peaceful tendencies towards Russia in Chisinau with the recent change in the team of ministers. The country seems increasingly willing to cooperate with the West to advance anti-Russian political projects in the region.

According to Recean, Moldova is currently in a very vulnerable security situation, the solution of which depends in the first place on the immediate demilitarization of the “left bank of the Dniester”. The prime minister made it clear that even economic and social issues should only be discussed after demilitarization is achieved. In this sense, the withdrawal of Russian forces from Transnistria is the highest priority of the Moldovan government.

“[There are] real threats of escalation of either military or hybrid operations [in Moldova] (…) We must calibrate our defenses so that it would be tough for any aggressor to attack us (…) The left bank of the Dniester (Transnistria) should be demilitarized by evacuating Russian troops and demilitarizing local residents (…) We must achieve one fundamental thing – demilitarization. Everything else follows after that, and the economic and social integration of our citizens who are there is very important, but in the first place is demilitarization. It depends on many things, but at some point, it will be decided”, he said.

As expected, the reaction of the Russian and Transnistrian authorities was immediate, with several criticisms against the Moldovan position. Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on the topic saying that “Moldova is slipping into anti-Russian hysteria”. In the same vein, Transnistria’s Foreign Minister Vitaly Ignatyev said: “It (the Moldovan side) is not ready for dialogue (…) In reality, Chisinau is sparing no effort to destroy the negotiating structures we have and to create new problems to dodge the implementation of its liabilities”.

In fact, it is curious to analyze what the Moldovan government understands by “demilitarization”. The withdrawal of Russian forces from Transnistria would not mean the mere “demilitarization” of the region, but its weakening, thus enabling Chisinau to intervene and resolve the issue through force and hostility. At no time did the Moldovan government show interest in advancing the negotiations towards a peaceful solution – it only emphasizes the Transnistrian issue as a national security matter, which makes it seem that the demand for the Russians to leave has the objective of facilitating a possible armed intervention in the region.

The presence of Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria is not any kind of occupation. On the contrary, the permanence of the forces is supported by the vast majority of the local population, who see in the Russian military a guarantee of protection against the constant threats of aggression by the central government. Politically, Moscow has respected Moldovan sovereignty, recognizing Transnistria as an autonomous region, with its right to self-administration, in coexistence with the Moldovan government. However, for Chisinau, there seems to be no other possible end to the conflict than an eventual military, violent recapture of the area.

Considering that Moldova has acted over the years as a proxy for NATO, given its alignment with the countries of the western alliance, mainly Romania, for Moscow it is absolutely unacceptable to allow Moldovan military growth in the region, as this would jeopardize not only the security of the Transnistrian people, but would also threaten Russia itself, since the Russian strategic environment would be vulnerable in the face of yet another focus of conflict.

Therefore, threat and blackmail really do not seem like good tactics for the Moldovan government to deal with the Transnistrian issue. The only interesting way to resolve the dispute is through peace negotiations that guarantee Transnistria’s right to political autonomy. Demanding that the Russians leave the region is meaningless, as obviously Moscow cannot remain inert while another threat of war arises within its strategic environment. In fact, either Chisinau adheres to diplomacy or the militarization of Transnistria will continue.

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