ISSN 2330-717X

Moscow Losing Control In Transniestria – OpEd

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The flight of the former Transniestrian president to Chisinau coming after Moldova’s erection of customs posts on Ukrainian territory on the border of the unrecognized republic and Chisinau’s expulsion of five Russian diplomats has sparked fears in Tiraspol and Moscow that Russia is “losing control” of the situation there, Gazeta reports.

The flight of former Transdniestria president Yevgeny Shevchuk form Tiraspol to Chisinau changes the dynamics in the breakaway republic, Aleksandr Rybin says, thus making it more likely that those with economic interests there will press for reorienting the republic away from Moscow (gazeta.ru/politics/2017/07/16_a_10790108.shtml#page4).

That is especially true now, the newspaper’s Aleksandr Rybin says, because with the new customs posts on Ukrainian territory, Chisinau can institute an effective blockade of Transdniestria that will hurt its already-hard-pressed economy in ways that Moscow will not be able to do anything about.

And that in turn will mean that Moscow’s pleasure in the election of a pro-Russian president in Moldova will prove to be almost meaningless because the Moldovan government which has the real power in the country is pressing ahead with its pro-Western program of European integration and distancing that country from Russia.

Given all this, Rybin says, a situation close to “panic” has arisen in Transdniestria. According to one source near the leadership of the unrecognized republic, “Russia if one speaks honestly now does not decide anything in Transdniestria. It has isolated itself from the processes which are taking place in the region” and is paying a price as a result.

Indeed, the source continues, “the orientation toward Russia in Transdniestria is only for show. Tomorrow the republic may easily reorient itself toward the European Union” and away from Moscow. That is because as a result of Moscow’s failure to respond to Chisinau’s actions, economics rather than politics is driving decisions and hence working against Russia now.

Some in Moscow both at the foreign ministry and in the Duma are alarmed, but they have not acted yet. Perhaps something will emerge at talks next month between the sides in the conflict, but given Moscow’s weakened position, Rybin suggests, no one can assume that Russia will win out then.


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Paul Goble

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

One thought on “Moscow Losing Control In Transniestria – OpEd

  • July 19, 2017 at 2:05 pm
    Permalink

    Gee Paul when will Russia just disappear?

    Reply

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