Moldova | Transnistria threatens to join Russia – Arkady Moshes: It's probably a power play

However, the threat should be taken seriously, says Arkady Moshes, Program Director of the Institute for Foreign Policy. Just in 2022, Russia announced that it would annex four Ukrainian regions to itself.

to Moldova part of the separatist region of Transnistria threatens to ask Russia to annex it, says a local opposition politician Ghenadie Ciorba.

According to Ciorba, Transnistria's “Supreme Council” plans to decide on the request next week, Wednesday, February 28.

Ciorba draws attention to the timing of the alleged vote. It is scheduled to happen just a day before the Russian president Vladimir Putin the next big speech to the Duma on February 29. According to Ciorba, during the speech, Putin would propose the annexation of Transnistria to Russia.

Ciorba's warning to the Infotag news agency was reported by, among others, Moldovan public radio Radio Moldova and a Romanian newspaper Adevărul.

in Transnistria joining Russia has been proposed before. In 2006, a referendum was held in which more than 90 percent voted in favor of joining Russia.

This time, however, the proposal must be taken more seriously than previous times, as it is a new precedent for regional federations in Russia, says the Program Director of the Institute for Foreign Policy Arkady Moshes.

Arkady Moshes, Program Director of the Foreign Policy Institute.

“Russia has annexed regions that it does not control,” says Moshes, referring to Russia's announcement in the fall of 2022 that it will illegally annex four Ukrainian regions: Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia. Russia already annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

However, Moshes does not believe that a possible new vote in Transnistria will have concrete consequences.

“If they had done this two years ago, when the Russian navy seriously threatened to land in southern Ukraine to build a corridor to Transnistria, then it should have been taken more seriously.”

Now However, Russia does not have such an ability, Moldova and Ukraine could organize a trade embargo around Transnistria. In addition, the situation in Transnistria is more stable. According to Moshes, it is difficult to see how Russia would even benefit from annexing Transnistria.

“It doesn't control [Transnistriaa] and it doesn't even have a land connection to it.”

Internationally, Transnistria is recognized as part of Moldova, but its status has been unclear since Moldova gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The region declared independence in 1990, but although it is pro-Russian, even the Kremlin has not recognized its independence.

Russia has recognized other separatist regions of the former Soviet Union, such as Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Moshes reminds. Just before launching a major invasion of Ukraine, it also recognized the puppet states of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent.

According to Moshes, it is “a good tactic for the Kremlin to stir up problems”, but the annexation of Transnistria to Russia seems unlikely.

“If Moscow would prepare [minkään alueen] connection, we would already see a media campaign.”

More likely is that it is a power play against the Moldovan administration, says Moshes. Transnistria is completely dependent on Moldova and the West, especially now that its border with Ukraine has been closed.

This fall, a referendum on joining the EU may be organized in Moldova in connection with the presidential elections. If Moldova joins the EU, it would also affect the situation in Transnistria, says Moshes.

“By sending a message to Chișinău [Transnistria] can get a special contract.”

Moldovan security consultant Andrei Curaru again analyzed according to Radio Moldova that it could be a message from Russia. Earlier this month, Moldova announced that it would not allow polling stations in the presidential election of Russia to be established in the country.

“There is also concern that this is part of a larger strategy to force the Ukrainian Defense Forces to monitor the border with Transnistria, even though there is a shortage of soldiers,” says Curăraru.

Russian soldiers guard the Dniester bridge in Tiraspol, Transnistria, in 2005.

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