Oleg Serebrian: Transnistrian conflict settlement depends on Ukraine war outcome

The settlement of the Transnistrian conflict depends on the outcome of the Ukraine war, says Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Oleg Serebrian. The current 5+2 negotiation format is unfunctional, according to him, as two participants – Ukraine and Russia – are at war.

“The settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, and also of other conflicts in our region, including those in the South Caucasus, depends a lot on how the war in Ukraine plays out. However, in our particular case, the political settlement depends on other processes as well. Some of them are ongoing and they are aimed at economic integration and societal integration. In a year, things moved quite quickly, with the registration of companies, with their integration into the Moldovan legal space, with their orientation towards the Moldovan and Western markets. Energy companies aside, 90% of the trade of the Transnistrian region is with the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and the European Union”, said Oleg Serebrian during a talk show on Vocea Bessarabiei.

Despite communication with Moscow being “blocked”, the demilitarization of the Transnistrian region, and the withdrawal of troops and ammunition from the eastern bank of the Nistru River are still on the agenda of the Moldovan authorities, says Oleg Serebrian.

“What is the problem of Russian troops in a nutshell? Today (the Russian presence) is mostly reduced to flags. With troops rotation no longer possible since 2015, most of them are local young recruits. This means they will go nowhere, except for the senior officers. The most complex issue remaining, though, is that of the Cobasna ammunition depot, of which we know nothing in terms of quantities and physical condition. What we do know for sure is that some of this ammunition is no longer transportable, and we have to figure out how to dispose of large quantities of materiel without endangering people’s safety”, said Serebrian.

Established in 1949 and effectively controlled by Russia and the Transnistrian de facto authorities, the Cobasna artillery depot is said to be the largest in Eastern Europe, with an estimated 20,000 tonnes of ammunition in store. International observers have been repeatedly denied access to it.

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