Why are things stirred up in case of Transnistria? Op-Ed by Anatol Țăranu



Such arguments make Moscow to pursue a policy amid at stirring things up around Transnistria in the hope of discouraging Ukraine from an eventual attempt to liquidate the Russian military danger in its rib by a rapid and successful military operation...


Anatol Țăranu

“Breaking news”

The previous days, public opinion in the Republic of Moldova was shocked by “breaking news” that came from MP Marina Tauber. The MP said that our officials, Maia Sandu and Dorin Recean, are preparing a military provocation on the border with Transnistria”. According to the author of this sensation, the provocation will be staged on April 17, the next day after Easter.

To give weight to her assertion, the MP of the Shor Party used the Parliament’s communication rostrum, saying that she received this information from international intelligence services that she actually didn’t name. She also said that there is other information according to which last week our authorities sent to Romania 10,000 uniforms of the national police and 10,000 uniforms of the National Army. The goal of such a move is to enable the international contingent to take part in military actions on the territory of the Republic of Moldova. Also, Tauber said that 3,000 coffins were ordered to a series of Moldovan enterprises.

Anemic reactions

After such a serious accusation, an immediate reaction should have followed from Parliament and from the responsible institutions of the Republic of Moldova so as to protect national security. In reality, the authorities’ reaction to the Tauber provocation consisted only in the denial of these serious accusations by short press statements. It’s true that the Prosecutor’s Office said that Tauber’s approach will be examined for compliance with the legislation, but this announcement was not very much disseminated. Even so, the authorities’ reaction to this high-profile case seems rather anemic at first sight.

It is noteworthy that Tauber herself, in the given press briefing, admitted that the initial topic of her meeting with the press was an entirely different one. So, the announcement of the alleged causing of a war in Transnistria appeared in the last moment and didn’t belong to Tauber in an assumed form. Shor’s representative in Parliament was rather used as a mechanical translator of the news story and she didn’t know all the details of the plan of the real authors of this information provocation.

Heated reactions

In this connection, a natural question appears, who is really interested in stirring things up around Transnistria and what is the planned end result of their actions? One of the first indirect reactions to Tauber’s assertions came from Moscow. The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on March 28 said that the Ukrainian authorities “show by all the possible ways their readiness to intervene in the situation in Transnistria, including by using force.” In an interview with TASS, Lavrov noted that Russia is responsible for security in Transnistria “in full compliance with the mandate” of the Russian army in this region. The Russian minister made clear allusions to the alleged complicity of Chisinau in Kyiv’s plans regarding Transnistria.

Neither the separatist authorities in Tiraspol indulged in interpretation of the possible developments. The Transnistrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky only speculated about the probability of a new world war that can break out if the situation in Transnistria is destabilized! “I’m deeply convinced that a direct path to the world war goes through Transnistria. These can be loud assertions, but they are nevertheless true. If Transnistria becomes involved, the Republic of Moldova will also become involved. This is normal as we are neighbors. If the Republic of Moldova becomes involved, then Romania, which forms part of NATO, will also become involved. If Romani becomes involved, Russia will also become involved. The method and use of armament are an open issue already. If things escalate into a global conflict, the used means will be limitless,” said Krasnoselsky, being quoted by the press in the separatist region.

Earlier, Moscow and Tiraspol expressed their dissatisfaction with the fact that Ukraine concentrated troops close to the Transnistrian segment of the border even if everyone realizes that these are protective measures in the eventuality of an attack by the Russian forces from the region. Then, Russia disseminated false reports about the Ukrainian army’s intention to invade the separatist region. Also, at the beginning of March, the so-called mMinistry of Security in Tiraspol said that Vadim Krasnoselsky and other leaders from the left side of the Nistru had been the target of a terrorist attack that was allegedly staged by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). In reaction, the SBU said that the accusations made Tiraspol should be regarded exclusively as a provocation orchestrated by the Kremlin.

Without prospects

As the Russian army failed in its plan to create a land corridor through southern Ukraine towards Transnistria, the political and economic elite in Transnistria are not interested in the thawing of the conflict with Moldova, not to mention its interest in the war in Ukraine. Unlike Donbas and South Ossetia (according to the model of 2008), the “Moldovan Transnistrian Republic” (“MTR”) does not have a common border with Russia and this makes the delivery of military support by the Russian Federation to Tiraspol for this to resist to have no prospects. In case of war with Ukraine, the region will resist for at most several days.

Those from Tiraspol depend on the Russian Federation, but are not self-killers. The Transnistrian elite realize the situation and do their best not to be engaged in hostilities. The signals transmitted through all the channels, about Tiraspol’s wish to step up diplomatic efforts to settle the conflict, derive from here. The self-styled foreign minister Vitali Ignatiev said that “Moldova and Transnistria should sign a comprehensive final peace treaty that would guarantee mutual nonaggression”. Krasnoselsky said he does not rule out the signing of a joint memorandum with Moldova on Moldova’s neutrality in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Krasnoselsky himself stated that the region will not “thaw the conflict” and appeared to be very sincere in this assertion.

Neither the heads of the Sheriff group, who are now actually the biggest beneficiaries of the existence of separatist Transnistria and who control the region’s administration and hold several nationalities, need a war. Their loyalty to Moscow is due to the fact that the Russian Federation offered military support and politically patronized the existence of the “MTR”, but the property and finances of Kazmalî and Gușan are situated in EU countries and Ukraine. Their relatives and they themselves have Ukrainian nationality. The same is true about most of the leaders of the Transnistrian administration.

Judging by Moscow’s last stances on the Transnistrian dispute, neither the Kremlin sees the opportunity of thawing the conflict at this stage of the war in Ukraine. Russia is unable to counter an eventual Ukrainian military attack on its forces in Transnistria. The loss of Transnistria would be a catastrophic blow to the image of the regime of Putin, not to mention the annihilation of the most important instrument of Russian geopolitical influence on the Republic of Moldova. An eventual military operation of Ukraine in Transnistria would turn into a real nightmare for the strategists from Moscow.

Be careful, flammable

Such arguments make Moscow to pursue a policy aimed at stirring things up around Transnistria in the hope of discouraging Ukraine from an eventual attempt to liquidate the Russian military danger in its rib by a rapid and successful military operation.

To achieve its objectives to protect the separatist regime in Tiraspol and its military presence in the region, Moscow does not stop even if needs to sacrifice the image of its most reliable allies in Chisinau. This way MP Tauber was forced to appear as a deceiving oracle at her last press briefing, when she told evident foolish things about Chisinau’s intention to start a war in Transnistria.

Probably Moscow got fully disappointed with the Shor group’s capacity to destabilize the political situation in the Republic of Moldova by bought protests and decided to use Marina Tauber in the last instance of nonrenewable consumable, forcing her to make public evidently tainted information. This is a final logic for a politician who plots with foreigners against the national interests.

Anatol Țăranu
doctor of history, political commentator

IPN publishes in the Op-Ed rubric opinion pieces submitted by authors not affiliated with our editorial board. The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of our editorial board.

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