Lost among the talk of Ukraine’s Civil War and the ISIL threat is the coming Russia vs. West clash in Moldova.
The country is sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, and the region of Transnistria has been de-facto independent for about two decades already.
As Moldova leaps towards the EU (it signed the Association Agreement at the end of June), it is also running towards NATO, and the US has pondered whether or not to grant it major non-NATO ally status via the tentative ‘Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014’ floating around Congress.
The problem is that Transnistria does not want to go along with Moldova’s vision of the future.
Instead, it has expressed its desire to politically and economically integrate with Russia, and over 1000 Russian peacekeepers are currently stationed there.
Its Russian-speaking and Russian-friendly population fears cultural and ethnic cleansing if Moldova moves closer to the West, since nationalists have been agitating for supposed ‘reunification’ with cultural cousin Romania.
After observing events in the run-up to and during Ukraine’s Civil War, Transnistria’s population surely has reason to worry about its fate. Unlike the people of Donbass, however, they will have no friendly, neighborly state to seek refuge in.
Worse still, tensions are already beginning to heat up. The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused Moldova and Ukraine of organizing a de-facto blockade over Transnistria, thereby placing its citizens in an uncomfortable economic position.
Also, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s plane was forced to turn around in May after visiting the region when Ukraine denied it air transit rights, in a previously unheard of application of diplomatic aggression that would be unthinkable if Rogozin was American.
As it stands, Transnistria is now surrounded by NATO-member Romania and vehemently pro-NATO Moldova and Ukraine, and each of these neighbors is conspiring against it to their own (and Washington’s) advantage.
Placed under such circumstances, the future looks dim for Transnistria, but Russian peacekeepers (and Moscow’s track record in protecting them) present a tangible guarantee for its security.
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