September 30, 2022

What to know about Transnistria, the Russian-backed territory that Putin may be eyeing after Ukraine

7 min read


Ukraine has called the bombings a planned provocation by Russian security services. Ukraine has also accused Russia of firing cruise missiles at a bridge east of the Dnipropetrovsk River on Tuesday, suggesting that Moscow cut off the southwestern corner of Ukraine bordering Moldova. Is trying

The bombings, and a drop in Russian officials’ comments about the region – in which a senior Russian commander says the army’s plan to occupy southern Ukraine will open a land corridor extending to Transnistria – have hit Moldova. I am deeply concerned that the disputed territory within its borders is part of Russian President Vladimir’s war strategy.

Transnistria is not recognized by the international community, which considers it part of Moldova. But Moldovan’s capital, Chesinau, has no control over the region, which declared itself a republic more than three decades ago.

Here’s what you need to know about the area.

A disputed land

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 gave rise to a handful of “frozen conflicts” in Eastern Europe – often volatile regions where loyalties have been hotly contested since the creation of the 15 post-Soviet states.

These territories include the territory of Georgia, the separate territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and the land demarcation along the Moldova border with Ukraine, called the Transnistria.

The area – an enclave of 1,300 square miles on the east bank of the River Denister – was the site of a Russian military outpost in the last years of the Cold War. It declared itself a Soviet republic in 1990, opposing any attempt by Moldova to become an independent state or to annex Romania.

When Moldova became independent the following year, Russia immediately established itself in Transnistria as a so-called “peacekeeping force”, sending troops to support pro-Moscow separatists.

War breaks out with Moldovan forces; The dispute ended in a stalemate in 1992. Transnistria was not recognized internationally, not even by Russia, but Moldovan forces abandoned it as a reality. The deadlock has left the area and an estimated 500,000 residents have been trapped.

In 2002, a Russian officer (left), a Moldovan soldier (center) and a transistor solder (right) stand guard in the security zone, separating Moldova and Transnistria from the river Denister in 2002.
Since then, Transnistria has hosted thousands of Russian troops – currently estimated at 1,500 – and advanced A reputation as a land lost over timeA Soviet wormhole inside a young, transitional Moldovan democracy.

It has a flag, a constitution and a national bank, and it celebrates its Independence Day.

The main streets of its capital, Tripoli, include Lenin Street, Strada Karl Marx and October 25th Street – commemorating the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. In the center of the city’s main square stands a tall statue of Vladimir Lenin.

Transnistria has long been more powerful than its industrial production, and its economy is heavily dependent on Russian subsidies. A group called the Sheriff is almost universal, owning many of its factories, supermarkets and gas stations and giving its name to the regional football club, FC Sheriff, which competes in the Moldovan National League. And last year Real Madrid claimed the famous Champions League victory.

Ethnic Moldovians, Russians and Ukrainians all Live in the region. It conducts its own presidential and regional elections, although international observers say the opposition has been suppressed and the ballot box lacks real competition.
Freedom House, an American NGO that monitors global government trends Rate the area Like “not free.”
Statue of Vladimir Lenin in front of the Presidential Palace in Tripoli.

“The impartiality and diversity of opinion in the media is very limited, and the authorities closely monitor the activities of civil society,” it said in its latest global report.

Despite periodic negotiations with Moldova, the prospects for a solution to the Transnistrian question are slim.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said the “isolated region remains a challenge for a united and developed Moldova.” Written in 2020.

“There is a danger that people on the other side of the river, without business, family or personal ties, will feel isolated from their fellow Moldovan, and will promote the kind of mistrust and misunderstanding that has led to this conflict.” There may be more obstacles to the solution. ” The agency said.

What are Russia’s plans for Transnistria?

Concerns about Russia’s long-term plans for Transnistria have never abated – they only intensified after Moscow’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.

The attack raised long-standing fears that Putin would try to invade and control southern Ukraine. A Russian-backed separatist enclave on Ukraine’s southwestern coast could now offer a possible bookend for any Russian invasion of the western Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s so-called “peacekeeping” presence in Transnistria, which has seen the Kremlin in practice supporting a puppet state seeking to undermine Moldova’s sovereignty, used Moscow’s pretext for attacks in Georgia and Ukraine. Is also reflected.

Alarm bells rang in Moldova and the West after the Kremlin refused to acknowledge that the rights of ethnic Russians were being violated in Transnistria – another argument Putin used in the East of February. Ukraine used it to justify its attacks on Luhansk and Donetsk, which included two splits. Russian-backed states.

“In Moldova, the rights of Russian speakers are allegedly violated,” Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said in a speech last Friday. “Although, truth be told, the area in which Russia should take care of the rights of Russian speakers is Russia itself: where there is no freedom of expression, no freedom of choice. Where there is no right to disagree. Where poverty flourishes and where human life is useless. ”

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western countries immediately saw activity in areas outside the country, including Transnistria.

Soldiers are celebrating the anniversary of the independence of their unrecognized country.

Some Ukrainian officials also suggested that Russia would at some point withdraw its troops stationed in Transnistria, especially after Moscow suffered heavy military and equipment losses in the first weeks of the invasion. Encountered

“Of course, sooner or later they will use them,” Odessa Mayor Hanadi Trokhanov said in a televised remarks earlier this month. “It is difficult to say which way it is going, but there is a danger. (Ukraine’s armed forces) know this and are working on it.”

But the most direct and unambiguous statement ever made about the region came from Russia’s Central Military District Major General Rustam Manikayev on Friday.

Russia’s state news agency TASS quoted the general as saying the country aims to build a land corridor between Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region and Crimea, adding that control of southern Ukraine would give Russian forces access to Transnistria. – A strategy that many people have been working on for a long time in Chisinau. Fear was Putin’s goal.

But the most direct and unambiguous statement ever made about the region came from Russia’s Central Military District Major General Rustam Manikayev on Friday.

Russia’s state news agency TASS quoted the general as saying the country aims to build a land corridor between Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region and Crimea, adding that control of southern Ukraine would give Russian forces access to Transnistria. – A strategy that many people have been working on for a long time in Chisinau. Fear was Putin’s goal.

Moldova and Ukraine are on alert.

Two days after Manikayev’s remarks, a series of explosions were heard in the area.

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported that loud noises were heard in Tripoli and windows of neighboring houses were damaged.

Immediately, Ukrainian officials suggested that the bombings were part of the Kremlin’s efforts to create a statement that would precede Russian military action.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that three days before the incident, the leaders of the breakaway region were “already preparing for it and plan to install a safe and comfortable bunker in the security of the Ministry of State.” “Which was damaged in the blasts. .

The children pass through the headquarters of the operative group of Russian troops in the town of Teraspole last year.

“Obviously, this case is one of the many provocative measures organized by the FSB (Russian Security Service) to stir up panic and anti-Ukrainian sentiment,” he said.

Two radio towers were damaged on Tuesday morning. The site of the blast, known as the “Transistrin Radio and Television Center”, was built in the 1960s and is one of 14 Soviet-era radio transmitting centers, according to the Transnistrian Interior Ministry.

Ukraine also accused Russia of firing cruise missiles at a bridge over the Danister River on Tuesday. The road and rail bridge connects Odessa with the far southwest corner of Ukraine, bordering Moldova. The damage mainly cuts through the region.

Russia used three missiles, one of which landed on a bridge, said Maxim Marchenko, head of the Odessa region’s military administration. “Through their actions, the enemy is trying to cut off part of Odessa and create tension between the incidents,” Marchenko said in Transnistria. Another attack on the bridge on Wednesday caused further damage.

Moldovan President Maya Sando on Tuesday condemned the attacks inside Transnistria, calling them “provocative” aimed at inciting the country to “measures that threaten peace.”

“Our analysis shows that there is tension within the region between forces interested in destabilizing the situation,” he said in a press briefing after the country’s emergency Security Council meeting. This weakens Transnistria and poses a threat to the Republic of Moldova, “he said in a press briefing following an emergency meeting of the country’s Security Council.

Sindu recorded several blasts this week, including several bomb alerts at schools and medical facilities. He accused the “pro-war factions” of trying to “increase tensions” in the region.



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