The time when we felt relatively safe in Moldova because of Ukraine’s heroic resistance to Putin’s aggression, including the great military success of sinking the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, Moscow, is over. What is happening in the separatist region of Transnistria does not bode well.
On Monday, April 25, the second day of Orthodox Easter, the Secret Service (KGB) building in Tiraspol, the capital of the separatist region, was attacked with grenade launchers. There were no casualties because no one was there at the time. The next day, there were new incidents in Transnistria: two telecommunications antennas were destroyed in the Grigoriopol area. Explosions followed in Parkani, a town 13km from the Ukrainian border, and at Tiraspol airport. It cannot be ruled out that this will happen again.
Russian presence in Transnistria
The worst option would be, for example, sabotage at the Kobasna military warehouse, which is controlled by Russian troops illegally stationed in the area. It houses about 20,000 tons of Soviet ammunition that were withdrawn from former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe in the early 1990s. Neither the authorities in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, nor foreign experts have access to the repository. There is no information on the condition of the ammunition.
Chisinau has repeatedly called on Moscow to transfer weapons from Kobasna to Russia, but there has been no response. The same goes for the request to withdraw about 2,000 Russian troops from Transnistria. The OSCE, in which Russia has a strong influence, has proved completely ineffective in supporting Russian interests, rather than Moldova’s legitimate request to eliminate this source of insecurity that hangs over our heads like the Sword of Damocles.
Fake news and escalation
The first clear sign that Russia was “targeting” Moldova after the war in Ukraine were statements by Russian General Rustam Minekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s central military district. He openly commented on the upcoming “second phase of the special operation”, consisting in taking control of Ukraine’s southwestern Black Sea coast and creating a land corridor to Transnistria, where he said “there are cases of violations of ethnic Russian rights”. . A blatant lie. The region is completely controlled by Moscow – who then violates the rights of Russian speakers?
Not Russian-speaking but Romanian-speaking residents and their institutions, including schools under the control of the Ministry of Education in Chisinau, have been threatened and terrorized. The harassment is of Moldovan villagers who have been terrorized by separatist militias for about 30 years. But when were the Russians interested in the truth?
Viktor Vodolatsky, first deputy chairman of Russia’s parliamentary committee on the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Eurasian integration and relations with compatriots, went even further in the accusations. The “Nazism” of the Chisinau rulers, backed by “their Romanian patrons”, was to be “eradicated” by analogy with the scenario applied in Ukraine.
Symbols of hatred and war
Last week, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova and Russian MP Alexei Pushkov criticized Moldovan President Maya Sandu for daring to ban Russian symbols of hatred and war: the so-called St. George’s Ribbon and the letters “Z” and “V”. This law was passed by the pro-European parliamentary majority in Moldova.
The pro-Russian opposition – the Communist and Socialist Party, led by former Presidents Vladimir Voronin and Igor Dodon, and the party of fugitive Ilan Shore (the “architect” of the 2014 bank fraud in which one billion euros went missing) – protested they threatened to take part in a May 9, Victory Day parade with Putin’s insignia on their chests, although the fine for such an act is nearly 500 euros. Thieves, bandits, and criminals in Moldova, with or without white-collar workers, have always been Russia’s agents fighting for influence in the former Soviet Union.
A scenario like the one in Eastern Ukraine
The Office for Reintegration Policy (the structure of the Moldovan government for Transnistria) has indicated that the shelling of the KGB building in Tiraspol on Monday was only a pretext for escalating the situation in the region. Following militant statements by Russian politicians about a “corridor” to Transnistria, the Russian Ambassador to Chisinau Oleg Vasnetsov was summoned to the Moldovan Foreign Ministry.
Shortly afterward, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko sent a reassuring message: “Russia sees no danger to its citizens in Transnistria and remains committed to a peaceful solution to the Transnistrian issue while respecting the sovereignty and integrity of the Republic of Moldova.”
We are witnessing a game of cat and mouse. Study on the ability of the Chisinau authorities to react to possible Russian actions in the region.
The Republic of Moldova is neutral in the current conflict and has called on all states, including the Russian Federation, to respect this status. But Russia will by no means stop because of Moldova’s neutrality and can at any time recognize the independence of the separatist region on the left bank of the Dniester. What may follow is a military intervention to “protect the citizens” – according to a scenario implemented in the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk republics in eastern Ukraine this year or in Georgia in August 2008, after Moscow recognized independence. of South Ossetia. At that time, only the massive diplomatic intervention of the Western countries managed to stop the Russian tanks a few kilometers from the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
Neutrality did not prevent the pro-European government in Chisinau from strongly condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and supporting Kyiv as much as possible. However, urgent solutions must now be found so that Moldova is not involved in the war.
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