1 February 2018 – The Operative Group of Russian troops illegally stationing in the Transnistrian region of Moldova conducted another exercise with the use of the high-caliber guns.
The Russian soldiers, primarily from the teams of the armored vehicles and BRDM-2 (БРДМ-2), practiced their shooting skills by shooting from tank-type Kalashnikov (ПКТ) and high-caliber Vladimir (КПВТ) guns. The soldiers had to shoot at targets located at distances between 300 to 1000 meters. According to the press-release of Russia’s Defense Ministry, the exercise was part of the planned set of exercises for training the troops of the Western Military District.
In 2017 and the start of 2018, experts have seen a significant increase in OGRT’s military activity.
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. The Group and the Peacekeeping Mission are strongly interconnected through the rotation of troops between them and both contain local Transnistrian men with Russian passports, despite their neutrality claims.
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 due to be discussed in the plenary session of the UN General Assembly on 23 October but then was delayed by the Moldovan Representative to the UN.
The Republic of Moldova will continue to be supplied with natural gas through Ukraine
Moldova will continue to receive natural gas through Ukraine, after the Ukraine and Russia have reached a consensus, signing a new transit agreement on December 19th. As a consequence, the natural gas will reach Moldova through the usual pipelines.
After long hours of negotiations between the Russian, Ukrainian sides and the European Commission, the new terms of the gas transit agreement starting from January 1st were established: Russia is expected to supply natural gas to Europe through Ukraine for a period of at least five years, while the Russian corporate group Gazprom will pay the Ukrainian company Naftogaz $2.9 billion to end legal disputes between the two countries, Reuters reported.
According to the new agreement, Gazprom, which supplies more than a third of Europe’s natural gas, will ensure the transit of 225 billion cubic meters of natural gas via Ukraine over a five-year period, out of which an amount of 65 billion cubic meters will be delivered in 2020 and 160 billion cubic meters between 2021 and 2024.
In response to the consent of Gazprom to pay Naftogaz after loosing the lawsuit brought to the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Ukraine will sign a legal agreement and waive all requests by December 29th, so that both parties can resolve all issues before the current agreement expires.
After the European Commission Vice-President, Maroš Šefčovič, Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak and Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection, Oleksiy Orzhel announced the reached agreement, Gazprom said that Moscow and Kiev would meet in Minsk to continue talks, according to Reuters.
Also last week, the new operator of the Ukrainian gas network – GTSO and the Romanian company Transgaz signed an agreement that will allow the supply of natural gas from Romania to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova through the Isaccea-Orlovka interconnection point, starting from January 1st, 2020.
It is not though clear yet whether the prices for supplied natural gas will increase or not. While the Ukrainian Energy Minister declared that the tariff for Russian natural gas transportation via Ukraine will increase compared to the current contract, which will expire at the end of the month (but did not specify what the increase will be), the Moldovan president promised that the tariffs will be even lower.
“The gas will continue to flow through the pipelines of Ukraine. I remind you that starting from January 1st, the price will be lower, much lower compared to the price we paid during 2019,” said Igor Dodon, the country’s president, at a press conference today.
The current contract by which Russia supplies natural gas to Ukraine and other European countries, including the Republic of Moldova, expires at the end of this year.
Photo: Getty Images/ S. Gallup
Promo-Lex: “The illegal presence of the Russian army on the territory of Moldova represents a support of an administration that deliberately violates the human rights.”
One of the most controversial territory in Europe, a self-proclaimed republic, which officially is part of the Republic of Moldova – Transnistria, still has on its territory two Russian military contingents since the Fourteen Army of the Ministry of Defence of the Soviet Union was established in the region in 1956.
The Russian troops have been renamed and transferred to Transnistria. Nowadays, they are the Russian Troops Task Force (GOTR), which safeguards the ammunition depots belonging to the Russian Federation and the peacekeeping mission forces sent by Russian Government on the Transnistrian territory.
While the Russian Federation insists that its military presence in the Republic of Moldova aims merely at ensuring and maintaining the peace in the region, the international community, the constitutional authorities and the majority of the population of
Moldova, perceive the situation as an occupation. All in all, the situation is regarded as a real danger to regional security.
According to a Promo-Lex report on Russian Military presence and its impact on human rights situation, “Moscow actually used its control over the former USSR Armed Forces’ military bases to maintain their military presence on the territories of the newly independent countries that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union,” such as Moldova, Ukraine and Armenia.
As the report states, the Russian Government “used its military presence not to strengthen security of the countries of deployment, but primarily for the sake of Russian geopolitical and economic interests, including strengthening of own influence on neighbouring states.”
As a result of the lack of proper legislation and oversight mechanisms to supervise the compliance of the Russian military presence with the legislation of Moldova, bilateral agreements, as well as the international law, serious human rights violations and significant deterioration in human rights situation resulted.
Until October 1, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued more than 28 judgements in over 56 Transnistrian cases against the Russian Federation, the total sum of claims awarded by the Court amounted more than 5.5 million euro, as the Promo-Lex report stated. That includes cases of detention in inhuman and degrading conditions, transmission of complainants to illegal region structures, torture, ill-treatment, simulated executions, rape, murder, lack of effective investigation into the death of persons who were forcedly enrolled in the Transnistrian military units, limiting the right to freedom of movement and seizure of transport means, etc. A direct or indirect participation of soldiers from the Russian military forces established in Transnistria was recorded in all these cases.
“The illegal presence of the Russian army on the territory of the Republic of Moldova represents a support of an administration deliberately violating the human rights, and in the absence of an opportunity to influence the state of play in the field of human rights, Russia is entirely responsible for the violations, as a subject of the international law,” concluded the report.
Also, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova concluded that the Russian Federation rather than withdrawing its occupation troops from the east, strengthened its military presence, which is a violation of the constitutional provisions on the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and permanent neutrality of Moldova, as well as an infringement of the international law, as it is declared in the report.
Maia Sandu urges Tiraspol to lift the travel ban for officials of the Republic of Moldova
Prime Minister Maia Sandu had a meeting with representatives of the mediators and observers in the “3+2” negotiation format. The discussions focused on the evaluation of the current stage of the Transnistrian settlement process.
Maia Sandu requested assistance from the “3+2” representatives in determining the Transnistrian party to eliminate in the near future the ban on traveling to the left bank for all citizens of the Republic of Moldova.
According to a government communiqué, the prime minister stressed that the “5+2” negotiation format for the Transnistrian settlement should become a platform to help fight corruption and smuggling.
“We have also discussed this in Kiev and I am glad that we have the same position in relation to this issue. The fight against corruption and smuggling in the Transnistrian region must be a priority. We will ensure that both state institutions and government officials will no longer be involved in corruption and smuggling schemes with Tiraspol, as it had happened in the past. As long as the Transnistrian region will be a major source of illegal enrichment for some people, there will be no real progress in identifying a political solution.”
In this context, Maia Sandu mentioned the need to prolong the EU Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM).
The head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Claus Neukirch, reiterated that securing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, with a special status for the Transnistrian region, is the key factor in the mission’s work, but also the main goal of the “5+2” format.
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