“Soviet open-air museum”, Transnistria is pro-Russian but does not want war

On Tuesday April 26 morning, Moldovans woke up to the news that explosions had knocked out two radio transmitters in Transnistria. The breakaway region’s security council then announced that a military unit had been the target of a “terrorist attack”.

President Maia Sandu responded by saying that “pro-war factions” Transdniestrians were behind these incidents and that the attacks were part of a desire to escalate tensions. A few days later, the Russian army command officially declared its intention to take control of eastern and southern Ukraine. These activities suggest that the war could move to Moldova, thus passing through the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria.

“It is very likely that it was an organized provocation for the simple reason that the explosives were placed in such a way as not to injure anyone and not to destroy the properties located in the surroundings. It’s a way of stirring up the surrounding dust. Perhaps the idea behind all this is to mobilize the people of Transnistria. But frankly, I can’t imagine Transnistria going into martial law mode and starting to call up conscripts,” says Jiri Kocian, a Czech expert who focuses on the issue of regions and national minorities in Eastern Europe.

Some 1,500 soldiers are stationed in Transnistria. They train the troops of the “Russian peacekeeping mission”, on the spot since 1992. Their presence is part of the peace agreement signed after the war of independence of Moldova. Kocian, however, doubts their fighting ability: “Transnistria may be used as a base which would change the strategic map of the front lines. But the problem is that it has no access to the sea, which means that a scenario similar to that of Crimea – with a fleet arriving from the Black Sea from which a contingent would land – is de facto impossible without that the Russians pass through other Moldavian or Ukrainian territories.”

According to Jan Sir, an expert on the post-Soviet space, the possible involvement of Transnistria in the conflict in Ukraine would suppose that Russia’s objective is to connect southern Ukraine to the border with Transnistria.

A self-proclaimed republic

To fully understand the relationship between the central government of Moldova and the separatist region, one must go back to the period of the collapse of the USSR. Transnistria broke away from Moldova in 1990, fearing a reunification of the country with Romania, ethnically, linguistically and histo

Leave a Reply