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Transnistria in the Russia-Ukraine War

  • 04 May 2022
  • 4 min read

For Prelims: Location of Transnistria & Moldova in the Russia-Ukraine War, European Union, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

For Mains: Russia-Ukraine War, Bilateral Groupings & Agreements, Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India's Interests

Why in News?

As the Russia-Ukraine War completes over two months, Transnistria, the tiny breakaway region of Moldova, risks being dragged into the conflict.

  • Transnistria is a de facto state lying between Moldova to its west and Ukraine towards its east.

What is Transnistria’s History?

  • Transnistria is described as a “remnant of the Soviet Union”, Transnistria declared independence like Moldova did soon after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
  • When Moldovan troops attempted to take over the territory in 1990-1992, Transnistria was able to resist them because of Russian soldiers based in Transnistria.
    • Since then, it has remained free of Moldovan control.
  • However, most countries continue to see Transnistria as part of Moldova. It is not recognized as independent even by Russia.
  • Most Transnistrians have dual citizenship of Russia and Transnistria or triple citizenship of Moldova, Transnistria, and Russia.
  • Its economy is dependent on Russia for subsidies and free gas.
  • It has its own government (which is pro-Russian), Parliament, armed force, constitution, flag, anthem, etc.
    • In a referendum held in 2006, over 97% of Transnistrians voted for future integration with Russia and after the annexation of Crimea, the government asked if it could be absorbed into Russia.

What is the Strategic Importance of Transnistria for Russia?

  • Transnistria’s strategic location is important to the next phase of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
  • There are fears in the West and in Ukraine that Transnistria could be used as a staging ground in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
  • Russia might use Transnistria to cut off the southwestern corner of Ukraine, leading to direct Russian intervention inside Moldova.
    • If Transnistria comes under Russian control, it will enable Russia to create a Russian-controlled corridor along Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.
    • If Russia succeeds in linking the Black Sea port of Odessa with Transnistria, the rest of Ukraine would become completely landlocked.
  • Moldova, on its part, fears that Russia will use Transnistria to launch an attack on it as Russia has long wanted Moldova to be in its sphere of influence.

Source: TH

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