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Reintegration

“Anti-terror”, scout and battle exercises conducted by Russian troops in Transnistria

At least three military exercises have been conducted in the last six days by the Operative Group of Russian Troops stationed in the breakaway Transnistria- de jure, territory of the Republic of Moldova.

The first battle exercise was reported on June 2nd by the Western Military District of Russia. The Russian soldiers reportedly had to improve their skills of destroying light-armored vehicles, firing means and live resources of the opponent by using АГС-17 «Пламя» grenade-throwers and  «Утёс» big caliber shotguns. Researching fields and distances, hiding and changing firing positions were also exercised. This exercise is expected to last until the end of June.

The second exercise was announced on June 4th by the same military authority. The Operative Troops residing in Transnistria had to train their scouting skills during daytime and nighttime by finding the opposite camps, taking secret documents and new weapons. The drill is allegedly part of the summer training plan.

The third one involved the Russian troops into anti-terrorist operations aimed at stopping terrorist groups from capturing the military base, capturing civilians and military personnel and blow up the base. The exercise reportedly finished with success for the Russian soldiers. According to the press-release, this kind of exercises are regularly conducted to prevent the terrorist acts against the deployed Russian troops of the Operative Group (ОГРВ ПРРМ) and the protected locations.

The Operative Group of Russian Troops (around 1200) are illegally stationed in Transnistria and have no legal basis for their stay, comparing to the Russian peace-keepers working in the buffer Security Area between the separatist-controlled territory and the rest of Moldova. The constitutional authorities of Moldova repeatedly asked Russia to withdraw its troops from Transnistria, in order to comply to the previous agreements and basic international norms.

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy.

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Reintegration

New monument of the “Russian warrior-peacekeeper” installed in Tiraspol

On December 1st, a monument to the “Russia’s Warrior-Peacekeeper” was erected in Tiraspol, the so-called capital of the separatist Transnistria. The inauguration was supposed to happen on the occasion of the Day of the Russian Peacekeeper, celebrated in Russia on November 25th.

The monument was created at the initiative of the head of the Operative Group of the Russian Troops (OGRT), Dmitry Zelenkov and financed by the so-called Justice Ministry of the separatist republic as a sign of gratefulness of Transnistrian people to the effort to stop the war in 1992.

The ceremony was attended by the first president of the “republic”, Igor Smirnov, the head of the Russian delegation in the Joint Control Commission (JCC) Ilya Uvarov, the head of the Transnistrian delegation in JCC Oleg Belyakov, the “justice minister” Alexandr Shevchenko, as well as Zelenkov himself.

A day before, a 5 meters tall “Arch for Peace” was installed next to the road connecting Tiraspol and Bender. The arch was installed with the help of the Russian organization “Right for Peace” and with the aim to celebrate the role of the Russian peacekeepers in the conflict settlement in Transnistria.

It is worth noting that criticizing the peacekeeping mission is penally punishable in the so-called Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic since 2016.

The 25-years old peace-keeping mission in the buffer zone is maintained by around 402 Russian troops, 492 Transnistrian soldiers, 355 Moldovan ones and 10 Ukrainian military observers at 15 checkpoints.

Besides the 402 so-called peacekeepers, Russia holds the Operative Group of the Russian Forces in the Transnistrian region of Moldova containing approximately 1200 regular soldiers, mainly recruited among locals. The Group is the new shape of the former 14th Guards Army of the Soviet Union that is illegally stationed in Transnistria after the collapse of SU.

In August 2017, the Republic of Moldova addressed the United Nations with the request to include the issue of the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping forces from Transnistria to the agenda of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. In a letter from the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Moldova to the UN, Victor Moraru stated that the presence of Russian troops “constitutes a danger to the maintenance of international peace and security.” The subject was supposed to be discussed in the plenary session of the UN General Assembly on 23 October, but the very same Moldovan Representative to the UN asked for a delay of the discussion.

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Reintegration

Tiraspol refuses to discuss OSCE report on presence of its armed forces at the Gura Bîcului-Bîcioc bridge

On November 30th, the Joint Control Commission (JCC) had a meeting focused on the measures needed to facilitate the traffic of vehicles on the recently opened Gura Bîcului-Bîcioc bridge.

The question of inviting the Ukrainian and the OSCE mission representatives to the meeting was promptly rejected by the representative of the Tiraspol administration, according to a press-release of the Moldovan delegation. The OSCE representatives were scheduled to present a report on the activity of the neighboring peacekeeping checkpoints (11 right and 11 left), but also the unilateral deployment by Tiraspol of new infrastructure, force structures and the increase of the latter before the entrance of the bridge. The delegation of the Russian Federation reportedly agreed to discuss the issue with the Commission.

At the same time, the Transnistrian delegation claimed that the OSCE Mission violated the limits of its mandate and those of the partnership with JCC by monitoring the peacekeeping checkpoints.

“We want to know what is this for, is the format of the work of the peacekeeping forces changing or a new monitoring mechanism is appearing? This generates some confusion”, declared Transnistrian delegation head, Oleg Belyakov, for the Transnistrian press.

The next meeting of the JCC is scheduled for 7 December 2017.

In the opening protocol, Chișinău and Tiraspol committed to not use Gura Bîcului-Bîcioc bridge for military goals and offered the Joint Control Commission the authority to open the bridge. However, it appears that the separatist authorities ignore the principle of free movement of people and goods between the two banks. The Transnistrian authorities apparently already activated a customs control checkpoint in Bîcioc which will most probably obstruct the free movement. Krasnoselsky himself with his prime-minister Alexandr Martynov visited the checkpoint after the inauguration of the bridge:

Source: novostipmr.com

Note: The Gura Bîcului-Bîcioc bridge over Nistru river was blown up by the Transnistrian separatist forces in 1992, then reconstructed in 2000 with the European financial support (30 million lei), but could not be inaugurated due to political misunderstandings between Chișinău and Tiraspol.

The Joint Control Commission ( Russian: Объединенная контрольная комиссия – ОКК, Romanian- Comisia Unificată de Control) is a trilateral peacekeeping force and joint military command structure from Moldova, Transnistria, and Russia, which operates in a buffer zone on the border between the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

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Reintegration

Chișinău to propose a “Vision” on the future “autonomous” status of Transnistria within Moldova

The Government of Moldova apparently has a plan for political reintegration of the breakaway Transnistria. At least, this what Vladimir Soloviev writes at Kommersant.

According to Soloviev, four sources communicated him that Chișinău elaborated a clear white paper, a so-called “Vision”, on the future status of the separatist entity within the Republic. The 8 and a half pages plan contain stipulations regarding the Russian military presence in the region, the military peacekeeping mission, the autonomous status of Transnistria and its official languages.

The white paper was reportedly written by the head of the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS “Viitorul”) and ex-Ambassador to the US, Igor Munteanu, and the Romanian political scientist Iulian Chifu, who has worked as national security adviser to Romania ex-President Băsescu. At the same time, the text of the paper was edited by the Vice-Premier for Reintegration, George Balan, and Foreign Ministry’s representative in special cases, Ion Stavila. The paper was ready at the end of summer 2017 and might even be presented before the next Ministerial Council of the OSCE, taking place during December 7-8 in Vienna.

The document reportedly begins with the acknowledgment of the necessity to withdraw the Russian military troops (probably the Operative Group of Russian Troops) from the territory of Moldova. The withdrawal is seen as natural by Chișinău because Russia committed to finalizing it before 2003 at the 1999 OSCE Istambul Summit.

In addition, the paper underlines the importance of transforming the current trilateral (Moldova-Russia-Transnistria) peacekeeping mission into a multi-national civil one.

A completely new approach to reintegrating Transnistria regards the provisions on the official languages to be established in Transnistria. Besides the Russian and Ukrainian official languages, Chișinău would like to replace the “Moldovan language” (Cyrillic script) with the Romanian language. This aspect might raise questions not only in Transnistria but also on the right bank. The Socialist and Communist MPs in Chișinpu are currently blocking a ruling of Constitutional Court to make Romanian an official language- as it is in Moldova’s declaration of independence.

More important, the “Vision” paper offers an autonomous status to Transnistria, a status similar to that of Gagauzia established in 1994 by an organic law. Specifically, Transnistria would keep its constitution, leader of the region, parliament, and government, but would not be able to pass laws, just normative acts.

The interlocutors of the Kommersant reporter, however, believe Chișinău will not offer everything in the first place, but would rather start from “timid positions”.

This “Vision” is said to be the first real written plan of the constitutional authorities of Moldova on Transnistria’s future status. In 2003, a Russia-backed plan often called Kozak Memorandum was rejected in the last moments by the Moldovan then-President Vladimir Voronin, who encountered the large opposition of the majority of the population to a plan federalizing the Republic and giving equal rights to Transnistria in foreign policymaking.

President Igor Dodon was first to react to the reports about the “Vision”, claiming it does not correspond to the approaches to solving the Transnistrian political conflict:

“We elaborated our vision, whose basis was: the preservation, consolidation and international recognition of the permanent status of neutrality of Moldova, the right to self-determination in case of Moldova losing its statehood”, declared Dodon for RIA Novosti. President’s plan might emerge from that of his Socialists’ Party, who wanted a federalized Moldova to include Gagauzia and Transnistria on an equal basis.

The recent 5+2 talks in Vienna apparently did not include negotiations on the political status of the Transnistrian region within the Republic of Moldova.

The recent IRI poll results indicate that the majority, 70%, of Moldovans see Transnistria as an ordinary part of Moldova without having any autonomous status:

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