Transnistria, why is this small territory between Moldova and Ukraine increasingly strategic for Putin

Transnistria is Moldova's pro-Russian separatist region on the border with Ukraine, which is not recognized by UN member countries.

Transnistria is a strip of territory in Moldova, bordering Ukraine, occupied by the Russians. It is a small self-proclaimed independent entity that is not recognized by the UN. It is to Moldova what the Donbass is to Ukraine, wanting to summarize.

The small enclave on the border with Ukraine, which dreams of joining Moscow, currently hosts a 1,500-strong Russian military contingent and the largest ammunition and weapons depot in Eastern Europe.

Already in recent months, it had come under attack, and in recent days it has been back in the spotlight after Putin decided to revoke the decree on the sovereignty of Chisinau dating back to 2012.

The decree in question included a Moldovan component. And, outlined Russia’s 11-year-old foreign policy that included closer relations with the EU and the US as well. Underlying the revocation was the need according to Moscow to “ensure Russian interests in relation to changes in international relations.”

What role Transnistria could play in a possible Russian invasion of Moldova

A thousand Russian soldiers are already present in the “disputed” region. Moldovan President Maia Sandu confirmed that she had received information from her Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky about Russian plans to create a crisis and take Transnistria.

Last May, Kiev intelligence told of a plan to invade Transnistria. At that time some explosions occurred near the Ministry of Security. But today everything may have changed. Even Moscow has accused Kiev of preparing an attack in the separatist region of Moldova.

“According to available information, in the near future the Kiev regime is preparing an armed provocation against the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic that will be conducted by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Including with the involvement of the Azov formation,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram.

Transnistria’s history: where it is located and what state it belongs to

Transnistria, whose name means “across the Dnestr River,” has in fact always been a special watch since Russia’s war against Kiev began. And, it has been mentioned among the possible areas that Moscow could attack should it wish to continue the offensive and not limit itself to the conflict it is already waging.

Relations between the two countries have always been very close, although Russia, like other countries, has never recognized the republic.

Transnistria has considered itself independent since 1992 when, after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, there was a full-fledged war between separatist and Moldovan troops. Which also saw the involvement of the Russian army in support of the separatists and Romanian volunteers in support of the Moldovans.

The Russian contingent in Transnistria and the republic’s Russian aspirations

Already under the Agreement for the Peaceful Settlement of the Transnistria Conflict signed in July 1992, Russia had sent 2,400 soldiers to ensure peace in the area. However, this contingent has been reduced over the years. There are reports of about 1,500 Russian soldiers present at the moment.

The Republic of Transnistria, home to about half a million inhabitants, has long been asking to be annexed by Russia. Which for its part, pays a pension to the elderly and provides gas at capped prices.

“The separatist region persists as a challenge to a unified and developed Moldova,” the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) wrote in 2020. “There is a risk that those without business, family or personal ties across the river will feel increasingly alienated from their fellow Moldovans. Thus fueling the kind of mistrust and misunderstanding that can further hinder resolution of this conflict,” the agency added.

For Vladimir Putin, it could represent the Western bank to unleash a further attack. And, to lock the Ukrainian city of Odessa in a vise.

Read also: New Start nuclear treaty, what the suspension decided by Putin means

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