Transnistrian separatists demand protection from Russia

Transnistrian separatists demand protection from Russia

Officials from the Russian-backed Moldovan separatist region of Transnistria called on Moscow on Wednesday, February 28, to protect them from what they called economic pressure from the Moldovan government.

Published on: February 28, 2024 – 4:58 p.m

4 mins

MPs from this area, a pro-Russian separatist region Moldova, met in Tiraspol for an extraordinary congress, the first since 2006, and adopted a declaration. The text, quoted by Russian press agencies, calls on the Russian parliament to take “measures to protect Transnistria,” where “more than 220,000 Russian citizens” live, in the face of “increased pressure from Moldova.” Transnistria is facing “unprecedented threats of an economic, socio-humanitarian and military-political nature,” the statement said, without specifying the assistance requested.

This announcement by the pro-Russian separatists from Moldova is anything but a surprise. This request is reminiscent of a similar request by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in February 2022, which was one of Vladimir Putin's pretexts for a large-scale attack on Ukraine. At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky summoned the heads of state and government of southeastern European countries gathered in Albania for a summitto provide increased support to his country, which is lacking ammunition, in the face of Russia nibbling at the front.

Accusations of “genocide”

Separatist authorities said Wednesday's congress, attended by 620 lawmakers, was a response to Chisinau's recent imposition of tariffs on imports from Transnistria. In his speech, local president Vadim Krasnosselski, quoted by the media, assured that “a policy of genocide” was being carried out in the area through economic, “physical”, legal and linguistic pressure.

In this resolution, MEPs also address the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the European Parliament, the Red Cross and finally the UN General Secretariat, calling on them to prevent “provocations” that lead to “a… “Escalation of tensions” could lead. . For its part, the government of Moldova stated earlier on Wednesday that “things seemed calm” and reiterated that despite this “new campaign aimed at creating hysteria in society,” “there is no risk of escalation.”

Moldova, in turn, condemned the statements by the authorities in the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria on Wednesday. The government “rejects the propaganda from Tiraspol,” Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Serebrian said on Telegram, saying the region benefits from a “policy of peace, security and economic integration” within the framework of its relations with the “European Union.”

Read alsoMoldova: Concern is growing on the border with Transnistria

Fear of the conflict spreading to Transnistria

The Polish prime minister, who says he was not surprised, reacted quickly. For Donald Tusk, “this shows how dangerous the situation is, not only for Ukraine.” The choice of the date of this official statement could also be non-trivial, considering that this Thursday the Russian President will give his traditional annual speech to the nation will hold. Vladimir Putin could use the opportunity to announce the deployment of Russian troops to this region on the borders of Europe.

Chisinau and the European Union regularly criticize Russia for trying to destabilize Moldova, which was once in its zone of influence but whose authorities are now firmly European-focused. In December 2023, the European Union decided to start accession negotiations with both Ukraine and Moldova.

Since the Russian attack on Ukraine began two years ago, there have been fears that the conflict would spread to Transnistria have reappeared several times. Assumptions continue to arise about a possible Russian attack from Transnistria on the large Ukrainian port city of Odessa on the Black Sea. Last year, authorities in this self-proclaimed state particularly accused Kiev of wanting to attack it after claiming to have foiled an attack on its leaders in March. The Russian Defense Ministry reassured last week, without providing evidence, that Ukraine was preparing an “armed provocation” against Transnistria.

(With AFP)

What is Transnistria?

If the Republic of Moldova proclaimed its independence on August 27, 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this small country in Eastern Europe would very quickly be deprived of some of its territory, as the Republic of Dniester-Moldova seceded four months later.

With a population today of just over 500,000, consisting mainly of predominantly Russian-speaking Eastern Slavs, this region on the other side of the Dnieper will very quickly function in complete independence, although Transnistria is not recognized by any state in the world. This area concentrates much of Moldova's industry and, since its secession, has been ruled by pro-Russian leaders who reject any rapprochement with the European Union.

In 2014, following Russia's annexation of Crimea, 96% of voters voted in favor of that annexation in a referendum, evidence of pro-Russian sentiment prevailing there. What's more: Since the conflict in Ukraine began in February 2022, there have been numerous incidents in this region that raise fears of Moscow's intervention. This was feared by many heads of state and government in Eastern and Eastern Europe, who constantly repeated that the situation there was very dangerous.