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Pressure on Transdniestria is meant to harm Russia

December 14, 2015, 16:59 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
A Russian peacekeeper in Transdniestria

A Russian peacekeeper in Transdniestria

© Sergei Karpov/ITAR-TASS

MOSCOW, December 14. /TASS/. Moldova has been repeating demands for the removal of Russian peacekeepers from Transdniestria with amazing regularity for the past few years, but they are meant rather for the domestic audience, Russian experts believe. Nevertheless, Chisinau still hopes for the reintegration of the self-proclaimed republic. In pursuit of this aim it uses economic pressures first and foremost. In doing this Moldova has the backing of Ukraine, which jumps at every opportunity to take a dig at Russia. Analysts expect no important changes regarding the future of the self-proclaimed Trans-Dniestrian Republic, because Moldova is in permanent political crisis, which can be settled somehow only after a new president is elected.

Moldova’s President Nicolae Timofti said last Saturday all Russian peace-keepers should be removed from Transdniestria. He argues that an international civilian mission must be invited to keep an eye on the situation in the region. Moldova’s Prime Minister Valeriu Strelet voiced a similar proposal at the UN General Assembly session early last October.

At present, the self-declared Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic houses a contingent of Russian peacekeepers (one battalion - a little more than 400 men) and the limited group of Russian troops (two more army battalions having a total strength of one thousand men). The limited army group is responsible for guarding the munitions warehouses that have remained there since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Transdniestria, whose population is Russian and Ukrainian 60%, had pressed for cessation from Moldova before the breakup of the Soviet Union for fear the surge of nationalism would result in Moldova’s adhesion to Romania. In 1992, after the Moldovan authorities’ unsuccessful attempts to address the issue from the position of strength Transdniestria in fact shrugged off Chisinau’s control.

As they put forward the demand for the removal of Russian peace-keepers, the authorities in Chisinau emphasized their pro-European bias," the leading research fellow at the Russian presidential Academy RANEPA, Sergey Bespalov, said. "But the problem is in the context of the ongoing internal political crisis Moldova can hardly offer Transdniestria any acceptable reintegration terms," he believes.

Russian peace-keepers have been in Transdniestria for the past 20 years. They managed to put a bloody conflict to an end. "Over the years the two sides were trying hard to devise a peace settlement draft. One of the most well-remembered proposals to this effect was the Kozak Plan of 2003 (Dmitry Kozak was Russia’s prime minister then), which envisaged Transdniestria’s gradual reintegration with Moldova and a simultaneous constitutional reform in Moldova. The presence of Russia’s peace-keepers was to be prolonged significantly. The then Communist authorities of Moldova changed their mind at the last moment to refuse to sign the agreement. At the end of last decade the nationalist forces regained power in Moldova. By now they have formed an Alliance for European Integration. The situation in Moldova has turned still more strained.

In the meantime, economic pressures on Transdniestria have soared. Moldova and Ukraine have in fact established a blockade. "The Ukrainian military group in areas bordering on Transdniestria is being built up. There are no immediate benefits for Ukraine from this. "It’s just anti-Russian policy on all fronts, including the Transdniestrian one."

A policy of creating economic problems for Transdniestria is continuing, this is a hard fact," the head of the Moldova and Transdniestria section at the CIS Studies Institute, Sergey Lavrenov, has told TASS.

"This is Russia’s sore spot. Pressures will keep mounting. I am not certain that any major events will follow, though. The more so, since presidential elections in bothTransdniestria and Moldova are due next March. Moldova remains in the state of a permanent political crisis," he said.

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