Transnistria, a new focus of tensions in the war in Ukraine

First modification:

It is a frozen conflict that ended with the separation of the Transnistria region from Moldova in 1992. Since then there have been no violations of the ceasefire, but if the Ukraine war crosses borders, it could resume.

Since the 1990s, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Moldovan region of Transnistria has sought its independence. It is a region located between the west of Moldavia and the east of Ukraine and separated territorially by about 150 kilometers of the course of the Dniester River.

The clashes between Moldovans and Transnistrians between April and July 1992 left hundreds dead, tens of thousands displaced and an open wound that has not healed. Although it is a frozen conflict, a status that was guaranteed with the deployment of a contingent of 1,200 Russian forces after the ceasefire agreement in 1992, the neighboring war in Ukraine could turn Transnistria into a new focus of tensions .

There have been several attempts over these 30 years to normalize the political situation between the Moldovan and Transnistrian governments, but without success.

Two people walk past the headquarters of the Operational Group of Russian Troops in Tiraspol, capital of the Transnistria region, breakaway from Moldova, on September 11, 2021.
Two people walk past the headquarters of the Operational Group of Russian Troops in Tiraspol, capital of the Transnistria region, breakaway from Moldova, on September 11, 2021. Sergei Gapon AFP

In 2006, Transnistria organized a referendum on future integration with Russia, with 96% voting in favour. The process was denounced by Moldova and by the OSCE. In 2014, after the Russian referendum in Crimea, the Transnistrian Parliament again asked the UN to recognize the referendum held in 2006.

In 2016, a timid package of cooperation measures was agreed between the two opposing parties in the field of agriculture, education and some administrative procedures, since some Transnistrians also have a Moldovan passport.

Despite the territorial political separation of Transnistria, there has been an understanding between its inhabitants of both Moldovan and Transnistrian nationality. However, the recent call for self-determination by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the self-proclaimed Republic of Transnistria has put the entire region on alert.

I can’t stop thinking about what happened in 1992

Since then there has been tension on the part of the Moldovan authorities, who have demanded the withdrawal of the Russian interposition forces in Transnistria. For their part, the Tiraspol authorities have begun to pressure Moldova with new regulations for the entry of Moldovans into Transnistria, the closure of border crossings and the blocking of the export of agricultural products.

The town of Molovata, divided into the two banks of the Dniester River, depends on energy supplies and trade from Transnistria. Molovata has a gas purchase contract that ends in October and after that, nobody knows.

The local population is worried. Those who lived through the 1992 war fear that the situation will deteriorate and the conflict will resume. This is how Raisa, a nursing assistant and resident of Molovata, expresses it to France 24: “I can’t stop thinking about what happened in 1992, they were terrible months. We were evacuated by boat to other villages in Moldova and we had to live as refugees. I do not know what is going to happen”.

Tatiana, married to a Moldovan and living in Tiraspol, explains: “The situation is not good. We are afraid. There have been bomb warnings in schools in Transnistria and now my children are studying online and they don’t know when they will return to class. We are a mixed family with Russian and Moldovan passports, it would be very difficult for us to choose sides.”

Looking forward to the future, Moldovans and Transnistrians fear that insecurity will set in and the waters flowing through the Dniester River will again drag suffering and destruction due to the resumption of the conflict.

Source link