November 7, 2016 -
By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ - translated by J. Arnoldski -
Negotiations between the defense ministers of Ukraine and Moldova have been held in Odessa. Following the meeting, it was announced that both countries intend to prepare a joint plan by the end of 2016 for withdrawing Russian troops and arms from Transnistria. The plan envisions the creation of a “green corridor” across Ukrainian territory.
The participants of the meeting were not interested in the opinion of the Russian side, or whether or not it would ever agree to withdraw its peacekeeping contingent from the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic.
At the present time, security in the conflict zone in Transnistria is ensured by joint peacekeeping forces of Russia, Moldova, and Transnistria, including military observers from Ukraine. The peacekeepers’ status was agreed upon in the special agreement “On the Principles of Settling the Armed conflict in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova” signed on July 12th, 1992 in Moscow by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Moldovan President Snegur in the presence of the head of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic, Smirnov. Thus, Russian peacekeepers are present on the territory of Transnistria on legal grounds originally agreed to by the Moldovan side.
The operative group of Russian forces currently in Transnistria is the successor of the 14th Guards Army which after the collapse of the USSR came under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. Today, the group consists of around 1,200 soldiers and officers.
This legality was not discussed at the meeting in Odessa, but the participants did fantasize a lot of an impending withdrawal (read: surrender) of Russian peacekeepers. Moldovan defense minister Salaru remarked: “We will provide all opportunities for this: a sea route through the port of Giurgiulesti on the Danube, an air path via the airfield in Marculesti, and a land path through a ‘green corridor’ across the territory of Ukraine.” Salaru also added that some of the ammunition which is outdated and is not to be transported is planned to be utilized with financial support from the United States and the OSCE.
This last point was a targeted Freudian slip and reveals just who the people ordering this action are and what the real status of Moldova and Ukraine is. The Moldovan and Ukrainian defense ministries did not hide that they are counting on the US’ help to finance the consequences of a withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers. This effectively puts the political interest of the US in the realization of this plan in parentheses.
Chisinau and Kiev hope that the US, which is on another continent, will itself take on the role of peacekeeper. Needless to add, wherever the Americans go, peace does not arrive, but even more heated wars break out. It is also symptomatic that Moldova and Ukraine largely exist thanks to handouts from Europe and Russia. Up to a third of Moldova’s yearly budget is provided by the earnings of Moldovan migrant workers. Countries that are deprived of economic sovereignty always have, as a minimum, limited political sovereignty. Therefore, Moldova and Ukraine are only executors of the will of others. The real “customer” of this plan is the United States.
The situation surrounding the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic has been complicated in the months and years since the victory of the Maidan. In 2016, several joint military drills with the US and other NATO countries took place in Moldova, and American generals arrived in Chisinau, in particular the commander of US forces in Europe, Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, and the former head of the the European command of NATO’s armed forces, General Philip Breedlove, who called on the Moldovan authorities to create “a strong army, despite neutrality, and raise it to the standards of the armed forces of European states and NATO countries.” In other words, Breedlove behaved in Moldova like a white colonizer in a typical “banana republic” calling to violate or rewrite the country’s constitution in which Moldova’s neutral status is enshrined.
The ongoing presidential elections in Moldova have not led to the election of a president of the country, as a second round is to be held on November 13th. However, it was the socialists’ candidate, Igor Dodon, who claimed leadership in the first round. Dodon opposes the entry of American and NATO military equipment and troops into the country and stands for preserving Moldova’s neutral status.
There is no doubt that today’s statement by Defense Minister Salaru is directed towards the dismantling of Moldova’s sovereignty and the country’s absorption by Roamnia in response to Dodon’s success, albeit not final, in the elections. There is similarly no doubt that pro-Western forces are doing everything possible to prevent a Dodon victory. Therefore, anything can be expected, up to the point of the organization of armed Pinochet-style putsch or even an invasion by occupational troops from neighboring Romania and Ukraine for the sake of imposing a “democratic” pro-NATO president upon the Moldovan people.
This would mean the emergence of another hot spot on the territory of the former USSR and make the resumption of the conflict in Transnistria likely. The situation in the republic and the position of Russian peacekeepers is becoming all the more precarious.
To be continued in part two...
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