We are in the anniversary year – 30 years since the independence of Moldova. These have not been easy years. Moscow periodically threatened Moldova that it would territorially disintegrate if it seceded from Russia. Not all of our former presidents, parliaments, and governments have complied with the requirements… Under the threat of the weapon, we resisted and we’re going ahead together, under the Tricolor. We can neither break nor bend under it…
On August 27, 1991, following Gorbachev’s so-called perestroika, Moldova proclaimed its independence from the USSR. It happened 48 years after the occupation of Bessarabia by Soviet Russia (June 28, 1940, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact), in critical conditions of an attempted coup in Russia (the anti-Gorbachev coup of July 19, 1991). Although the coup failed, Moscow’s policy toward the peripheries remained arbitrary, restrictive, and abusive. Russia, as much as it could, tried to oppose the National Liberation Movements of the former sister republics, which, animated by the spirit of perestroika, did not want to accept another outcome than national-state independence. The empires do not die voluntarily. It didn’t go without bloodshed. Half a year after the proclamation of Independence, after several attempts to force Chișinău to accept the new Union Treaty (a new USSR), on March 2, 1992, Russia occupied Transnistria and started a war on the Nistru River, a war that remains unfinished even after 29 years since the signing, in Moscow, of a Ceasefire Agreement between Russia and Moldova. The fire has ceased, the war – not. The risks of its re-outbreak remain imminent even today. There are no more shootings since 1992, no more daily communications from the front with dead and shot, the format of negotiations of the Transnistrian issue has changed, the status of Moldova internationally is not the same as in 1992, Moldova has developed in these years a strategic partnership with the EU and the USA, is no longer alone in front of Russia, but Moldova remains, anyway, broken by Russia between the two banks of the Nistru. Transnistria remains under Russia’s control, with its military troops, the border on the Nistru, and the restricted right to free movement and communication between shores… 29 years after the end of the war, there is no peace on the Nistru. The conflict can always change from a frozen to a hot one. Transnistria, under Russian control, remains a delayed bomb for Moldova, which Moscow can detonate at any time, considering that Chișinău’s policy is not friendly to it. Let us remember the reaction of the Russian Duma after last year’s presidential elections when Maia Sandu declared that she will be the president of European integration and will ask Russia to withdraw its troops from the left bank of the Nistru. “Russia’s policy towards Moldova will depend on the power that has been elected… If this power moves away from Russia (if it will go to the EU, ed.), we will act accordingly. In particular, we will strengthen the Transnistrian factor”. The statement came from Leonid Kalashnikov, Chairman of the CIS Commission in the Duma. We know what the ”strengthening of the Transnistrian factor” means – it’s a threat and a call for obedience. Therefore, any attempt by Chișinău to rebuild its international relations and to act independently will inevitably hit the will of those who control Transnistria. It became clear, once again, that Russia does not want to get along with anyone, it wants to fight with everyone. The frozen conflict in Transnistria, which has fallen into the hands of Moscow, has become the playing card with which Russia is sure that today it can veto any interests and aspirations of Chișinău, other than those convenient to the Kremlin. If need be, Russia will try to play this card. To what extend will succeed depends not only on Russia but also on our Western partners, which have declared their full support for Moldova’s reforming and adaptation to the European law and practices of governance.
Less than a week after the inauguration of the Government, Vladimir Putin sent on a lightning visit to Chișinău his special envoy for relations with Moldova, Dmitri Kozak, number two in the Kremlin’s administration, the person with many hidden thoughts about Russia’s relationship with Moldova. Kozak is the author of the 2003 Memorandum of Federalization, a Russian Barbarossa plan of the peaceful reconquest of Moldova. The plan failed, but Moscow did not give up.
The purpose of this ad hoc visit by Kozak remains unclear. Some say that Kozak came at the invitation of Maia Sandu, with whom he met. Others – that the Foreign Ministry agreed to the visit, that its staff would be very close to the Kremlin in Dodon’s time. Kozak himself could not say what business he came for, except that Moscow was looking for new friends in Chișinău. “We will be friends, and we will work together,” Kozak told reporters. The emissary did not say what the new friendship would consist of, but as far as we know, friendship with Russia is expensive, and usually, these costs are political. On cooperation, not much was said here either, only that several issues “from the bilateral agenda” were discussed. But how about the withdrawal of troops from the territory of Moldova? Is it not also a problem or was there no place on the agenda? Or about the settlement of the Transnistrian dispute – issue no. 1 in Chișinău -Moscow relations, which also remained outside the “bilateral agenda” (?!), declared by Kozak that it would not be a problem of Russia, but one of Chișinău and Tiraspol… “It’s not our business. It’s your internal business”. Curious: Russia started the war in 1992 in Transnistria, the 14th Russian Army fought on the side of Tiraspol, the Peace Agreement is signed in Moscow by Boris Yeltsin with Mircea Snegur, “the consolidation of the Transnistrian factor” is in Moscow’s hands, and Kozak says that it is not their problem.