Moscow cannot forgive President Maia Sandu’s statement on the need to withdraw Russian troops from the breakaway Transnistria region, made right after her election win. The subject is periodically resumed at the level of the central institutions in Russia (Duma, Government, Presidency). Moldova’s President is accused of endangering peace and stability in the region through her statements. More recently, in a comment on Youtube, the spokesman of the Russian presidential administration, Dmitry Peskov, claims that the Russian military presence on the Nistru River would not be a serious problem for Moldova. “Maia Sandu came, she became the president of Moldova, and here is the first statement, as if Moldova had no other problems.”
Are Russian troops on the Nistru River a problem for Moldova?
Lilian Carp, Deputy
Yes, it is. The fact that Moscow is distracting is something else. The Kremlin has in its subconscious the idea that we are part of the old empire and treats us like vassals. This fact is also fuelled by Dodon’s regular departures to Moscow, called to report, as he acknowledged to Plahotniuc and Yaralov. For Russia, the military presence on the Nistru banks has an important geopolitical role. When we talk about the Russian army, we must not only consider the Task Force but also undercover officers like Dodon and his comrades, who are no less a danger to national security. Russia must withdraw, along with the troops, the weapons from Cobasna village, about which we do not know in what condition it is. We could wake up with an explosion similar to the one in Beirut.
Ion Tăbârță, Political Analyst
The Russian army is Russia’s main element of hard power in foreign policy. In Moldova’s case, Moscow insists that Russian troops deployed on the left bank of the Nistru River, presented as peacemakers, guarantee stability in the Transnistrian issue. In reality, the Russian troops’ presence on the left bank of the Nistru River is a powerful instrument of Russian influence over Moldova to expand its geopolitical influence in the region. Russia conditions the withdrawal of its troops with the political settlement of the Transnistrian conflict. However, we cannot be sure that the identification of the status of the Transnistrian region as a part of Moldova will lead to the withdrawal of Russian troops from the left bank of the Nistru River. Their presence on the Moldovan territory guarantees Moscow that it has levers of political control over our state.
Vitalia Pavlicenco, Politician
Russian troops were and remain Moldova’s main problem. Their presence on the Nistru River means Russian occupation. With Russian troops on the territory, there is no independence, no foreign investment is coming, the economy is not developing, there is no money for social needs, and no free elections. For five years, while I was a member of the Delegation of the Parliament of Moldova to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, I approached the issue from several high forums. But no top leadership in Chișinău has so far had the courage, along with Western partners, to press Moscow to withdraw its army from Moldova. I’m not optimistic right now. Europe has other priorities, and the US is going through a deep political crisis. We need politicians who dare to confront the Kremlin, which is artificially hysterical about Chișinău. We do not yet have a possible authority, a consolidated pro-Western power, and pro-NATO in Chișinău.
Nicolae Osmochescu, Associate Professor, Doctor
Yes, it’s a big problem. First of all, the Russian military presence on the Nistru River contradicts both the norms of international law and the commitments that Russia has made to Moldova and international organizations. I am referring to the operative group of troops, which, to scandalize things, Moscow intentionally confuses with the peacekeeping troops. Secondly, in 1999, at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul, Russia was forced to withdraw its troops and weapons from the breakaway Transnistria region, which has not been done yet. And thirdly, there is a lot of discussion around the 5 + 2 negotiation format that needs to be reformed because it was wrong when Tiraspol city (Southern Moldova) was accepted as an equal party in the negotiations. If the format is to be changed, this change would only make sense if the US and the EU could be given equal status in negotiations instead of observer status.