Moldova has rejected an offer from Ukraine to invade its breakaway region of Transnistria, a tiny, pro-Russia, self-proclaimed republic that is still officially part of Moldova and unrecognized by most of the world. Moldovan leadership says they will use political diplomacy, not force and foreign armies, to unify their nation. Russia has described Ukraine’s pro-war offer as “quite provocative.”
Sandwiched between Moldova’s section of the Dniester River and its border with Ukraine, Transnistria is a post-Soviet, “frozen conflict zone” that has sought independence from Moldova since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the 90’s, the region fought a breakaway war against the Moldovan government shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed.
While not officially recognized as an independent nation by Russia, the Kremlin is considered Transnistria’s biggest unofficial backer. Transnistria is only officially recognized by three other breakaway republics within the former Soviet Union but has seen its strategic value grow since the Russo-Ukrainian conflict heated back up earlier this year. The region has increasingly attracted the interest of Ukraine and its international backers.
Alexey Arestovich, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, proposed this week the expansion of Ukraine’s war by reportedly suggesting Moldova ask for their help in “capturing” Transnistria. Russia stated that such a move would be “quite provocative” and has warned against.
An estimated 30% of Transnistria’s population is ethnically Russian, with many of them maintaining Russian citizenship. Additionally, Russia stations peacekeepers in the area.
For their part, Moldova has outright rejected Ukraine’s invasion plan, saying the ongoing issues in Transnistria should be resolved peacefully and by “political means” only.
“The settlement of the Transnistrian issue can be achieved by political means and only on the basis of a peaceful solution, excluding military and other forcible actions, as well as on the basis of the principles of democratization and demilitarization of the region, [and] respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova,” said the county’s reintegration office, which is focused on ending political hostilities with Transnistria and unifying Moldova’s territory.
Coinciding with Ukraine’s offer to invade Transnistria have been several reported strikes on the breakaway region, which have been described by the Russian government as “terror attacks” and blamed on Ukrainians hoping to drag it into ongoing hostilities and conflict. This Monday, Transnistria’s Ministry of State Security was reportedly attacked by “three unknown assailants, who fired shoulder-mounted rocket launchers at the building.” By Tuesday morning, a local broadcasting station was under attack as well, destroying the transmission of Russian broadcasts.