212 years of Russian occupation of Bessarabia is marked today

On May 16, 1812, a peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire was signed in Bucharest, as a result of the war fought on the territory of the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia (1806-1812). Through the Treaty of Bucharest in 1812, Bessarabia was annexed for the first time by Russia, IPN reports, with reference to InfoPrut.

At the beginning of hostilities, all the Russian ambassadors in European capitals were instructed to declare that the Russian Empire had “not the slightest intention of conquering anything from Turkey”, aiming only “to prevent Bonaparte’s intention, which was clearly expressed by his ambassador in Constantinople, to pass the French army through the Ottoman possessions, in order to attack on the Nistru”.

Despite initial assurances and after the meeting in Erfurt between Alexander I and Napoleon, the tsar finally obtained the French sovereign’s approval for the occupation by the Tsarist Empire of the two Danubian principalities – Wallachia and Moldavia.

Having such diplomatic assurances, the Russians submitted to the Turks peace proposals negotiated as early as October 1811 in Giurgiu, after the defeat of the Ottoman armies in Ruse and Slobozia. The Tsarist proposals stipulated that “the principalities of Moldavia, Greater and Lesser Wallachia and Bessarabia” would join “forever the Russian Empire, with their towns, fortresses and villages, with their inhabitants of both sexes and with their wealth”, specifying that “the Danube River will henceforth be the border between the two Empires”.

British and French mediators tried to delay peace talks as long as possible, and simultaneously, on the tsarist side, Mikhail Kutuzov made every effort to conclude peace before the foreseeable Napoleonic invasion. The Porte opposed the initial tsarist proposals, Russia declaring itself satisfied with occupying “only” the territory between the Siret and the Nistru.

The peace treaty was signed on May 16/28, 1812 in Bucharest, in the inn of Russian agent Manuc Bei. The treaty had 16 public articles and two secret articles. By Articles 4 and 5, the Ottoman Empire ceded to the Russian Empire a territory of 45,630 km², with 482,630 inhabitants, 5 fortresses, 17 towns and 695 villages, (according to the census ordered by the tsarist authorities in 1817). The Russian Empire included the counties of Hotin, Soroca, Orhei, Lăpușna, Greceni, Hotărniceni, Codru, Tighina, Cârligătura, Fălciu, the eastern part of Iaşi and Bugeac. The tsarist authorities in 1813 named the newly occupied region “Bessarabia”.

The annexation of Bessarabia by the Tsarist Empire was a fraudulent act because it violated the international practice, with all the legal norms existing at the time. In a manifesto issued at the conclusion of the peace treaty, the Russian Empire pledged to withdraw its troops from Moldavia. Also, the ysar guaranteed the inhabitants of both banks of the Prut River the right to move during a year to whatever side of the new borders they wanted and sell their wealth according to their own interest. Over this year, an extremely large number of sales and exchanges of property took place.

The old principality of Moldavia was dissolved and, having already lost Bukovina in 1774, it also lost Bessarabia. The Ottoman Empire occupied the eastern part of Moldavia in breach of the existing treaties and international law (valid at the time), because Moldavia was not a Turkish province.

For Tsar Alexander I, the signing of the treaty was a great diplomatic and military success as he ratified the treaty only one day before Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. The troops pulled out from the Danube helped fight against the French emperor and the defeated Ottoman Empire ceased to be France’s ally.

212 years after the first annexation, the Republic of Moldova is still under occupation. The Russian 14th Army continues to be stationed in the Transnistrian region and the contingent of “peacekeepers” periodically conducts military exercises alongside the separatists in Tiraspol.

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