NATO and Russia, a face-off at a distance in Transnistria
While U.S. troops were entering Moldova for a joint military exercise, on the other bank of the Dniester Russian soldiers stationed in Transnistria paraded in the Victory Day. The dual event sparked the rhetoric on both sides, even with unintentionally comic results. While the Moldovan government protested against the participation of the Russian military in Tiraspol in the May 9 parade, the celebration of the Allied victory over Nazis during the Second World War, Igor Dodon, the leader of the strongly pro-Russian Socialist Party of Moldova, spoke of military occupation of Moldova.
- Friday, 13 May 2016
And he was not referring to the breakaway territory of Transnistria, guarded for over twenty years by Russia’s 14th Guards Army. American troops will take part in the Dragon Pioneer 2016 joint military drills, a "destabilizing factor", according to the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the de facto State, Vitali Ignatiev.
Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, with responsibility for politically incorrect affairs, as well as Putin's special representative for the Transnistria, did not miss the opportunity to post on Facebook photos of the "joint Russian-Transnistrian military parade".
But Rogozin knows which strings touch to unnerve his European partners. After making NATO’s hair curl with his statements on the Arctic, he broke the calm on the de facto republic saying that "Transnistria could become a fully independent state". He took advantage of the tumultuous political situation in Moldova, whom the territory of Transnistria de jure belongs, and the possible reunification of the former Soviet republic with Romania. One hypothesis is always in the air in Kishinau, but never really on the political agenda. This time the column of American troops and armored vehicles that entered Moldova on May 2 gave him a new chance. Besides, it is true that Transnistria has never ceased to be a lever in the hands of Moscow to shake the fear of an escalation of the frozen conflict.
A bogeyman in Europe
The process of independence of Transnistria seemed to have had a major acceleration just over a year ago, in the weeks when Russia annexed the Crimea and opened the crisis (and war) in Donbass.
With a quick constitutional reform, wanted by its President Evgeny Shevchuk, Transnistria has unilaterally implemented the entire body of legislation of the Russian Federation, becoming suddenly a hybrid similar to an autonomous, but not recognized, republic of the Russian Federation. The Supreme Soviet had then sent to Moscow a formal request for recognition of independence. However, it remained unanswered. A few months later, then some activists of the Organization for union with Russia had delivered to Rogozin, on a visit to Tiraspol, signatures of 30,000 Transnistrian citizens with the request, addressed to the Kremlin, to welcome the Transnistria into the Russian Federation. The request has not (yet) been accepted, but Russia is keen on using the bogeyman of annexation or full independence each time there’s an opportunity.