Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Moldova to move embassy to Jerusalem

MEMO | June 12, 2019

Moldova has announced that it will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move which would make it the first European country to do so.

The announcement comes against the backdrop of a political crisis in Moldova, a small Eastern European country located between Romania and Ukraine.

The country has been engaged in a power struggle between three parties – the pro-European Union ACUM bloc; the Socialists led by Moldovan President Igor Dodon and backed by Russia; and the Democratic Party run by media tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc – since it held elections in February.

After months of post-election deadlock, ACUM and the Socialist party agreed to form a government – a move not recognised by the Democratic Party which insists that the previous prime minister, Pavel Filip, remains in charge.

On Sunday, the Democratic Party persuaded the country’s Constitutional Court to briefly suspend President Dodon and install Filip as president for enough time to allow him to issue a decree calling for snap elections in September, US-based magazine Algemeiner explains. While acting as president, Filip announced that Moldova would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In a statement issued yesterday, Filip tied the country’s domestic difficulties to the announcement of the embassy move, as well as the sale of land for the construction of a new US embassy in Moldovan capital Chisinau.

The interim prime minister wrote: “We are in [a] situation [in which we need] to urgently adopt these decisions taking into account the political instability and uncertainty in the country, but also the latest political developments [in which] one of the political parties that constantly blocked these two projects is attempting an illegal takeover of power.”

He continued: “These are two commitments that we have previously undertaken and we want to make sure they will be respected, regardless of what happens after the snap elections.”

Given Moldova’s internal political instability, it is unclear whether the government will be able to follow through on its announcement. If the relocation is undertaken, Moldova will become the first European country to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

Since US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and relocated the US embassy to the Holy City in May 2018, a handful of countries have followed suit. Most of these have been Latin American countries with close ties to the US, including Paraguay and Guatemala.

However, within months of relocating its mission, Paraguay reversed the decision and moved the embassy back to Tel Aviv, citing a desire to support “broad, lasting and just peace” among Israelis and Palestinians.

Brazil – which recently elected pro-Israel politician Jair Bolsonaro as its president – has also toyed with the idea of moving its embassy to Jerusalem. In March, however, Brazil appeared to backtrack on its promise, saying it would instead open a “business office” in Jerusalem.

Likewise Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban – who, like Bolsonaro, is considered a close associate of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – has said his country will open a “diplomatic office” in Jerusalem, though stopped short of promising a full-service embassy.

Despite Israel encouraging other countries to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem – and announcing it would build a new “embassy complex” which could house nine diplomatic missions for the purpose – the international community has generally opted not to follow President Trump’s controversial move.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | | Leave a comment

UN call to withdraw ‘foreign troops’ from Moldova threatens Transnistria peace process – Moscow

RT | June 23, 2018

A UN resolution calling for withdrawal of “foreign troops” from Moldova might reignite the Transnistrian conflict, Moscow warns. Moldovan President Igor Dodon called the resolution a PR stunt of the democrats ahead of an election.

The resolution, calling for the “complete and unconditional withdrawal of foreign military forces” from Moldova was adopted by the UN General Assembly on Friday. The Moldova-sponsored document received a simple majority, with 63 countries voting for it, 15 against, and 82 abstaining.

Russia condemned the adoption of the resolution as a shortsighted move which could lead to a potential flashpoint between the unrecognized Transnistria Republic and Moldova, undermining the “fragile” reconciliation process.

The resolution targets a small contingent of Russian peacekeepers, which have been stationed in the breakaway region of Transnistria for over two decades. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, ethnic tensions in Moldova resulted in a brief but intense armed conflict in 1992.

The involvement of Russian troops in the conflict back in 1992 put a stop to the bloodshed, the foreign ministry stated, adding that Russian peacekeepers remain “the guarantor of peace in the region.”

“We perceive this initiative as a blatant propaganda move of some of the political figures in Kishinev, who seek to score political points ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections by fueling anti-Russian sentiments,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

A similar opinion was expressed by the president of Moldova, Igor Dodon, who criticized the decision of his government to push the resolution through the UN General Assembly.

“The ruling coalition exploits international platforms to reinforce its political standing ahead of the parliamentary elections, which will be held in a couple of months. Such PR stunt of the Democratic Party won’t have any effect in reality,” Dodon said in a Facebook post.

The withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the Transnistria region will occur only when the 1992 agreement between the breakaway region and Moldova is fully implemented, and the “two banks of Dniester” reach full reconciliation, Dodon stressed. The president also said that until lasting peace is achieved, the Russian peacekeeping operation, which is “one of the most successful,” should continue.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Russia-US Security Dialogue Looming: Time to Address a Broader Security Agenda

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 25.03.2018

A lot of people close to the US president wanted to prevent it at any cost but Donald Trump congratulated President Putin anyway and had a phone conversation with him. The US president said that the two would meet “in the not too distant future.” Preventing an arms race is one issue on the agenda. Donald Trump knew the move would bring forth a tempest but he did it anyway. The president considered the relationship with Moscow to be important enough to defy his numerous opponents. Serbia has already offered to host a summit.

Right after the two presidents’ conversation, the Russian and American chiefs of staff discussed Syria. What’s even more important is that they have agreed to more military-to-military contacts in the future. Why has it suddenly become so important for Washington to launch a dialog on defense issues? The answer was provided by General John E. Hyten, the Commander of US Strategic Command, who admitted in the Senate that the US is defenseless in the face of the threat from hypersonic weapons. This realization came right after Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed his recent information about the new systems capable of hypervelocity flight that are currently being tested and are soon to be operational.

The US is a great military power but it’s not strong enough to force everyone to dance to its tune. Its defense programs suffer from serious shortcomings. The current arms-control system is in crisis. New challenges keep cropping up. They should be incorporated into the international security agenda but that’s not happening.

The looming hypersonic race is a burning issue that still needs to be addressed. It’s a domain in which the US is lagging behind Russia. When the Russian president announced those breakthroughs in military technology, his revelations were met with some skepticism in the West. But the ensuing events proved him right. Vladimir Putin pulled it off, making hotheads come to their senses and realize the need for talks to address the security challenges. Washington needs this dialog more than Moscow does.

So, the Americans’ coveted leadership in military technology has turned out to be a pipe dream. But their furtive steps to bring NATO right to Russia’s doorstep are not. The most interesting things often fall off the radar.

Moldova is planning to phase out its draft in order to have a professional military. This month, Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine formed an anti-Russia alliance. Moving to an all-volunteer force is in keeping with the political goals of this group and is seen as an important step on the path to NATO membership. That reform is scheduled to begin this fall. This is a very costly endeavor, especially when one is talking about the poorest country in Europe. Chisinau cannot afford it. It will be fully dependent on assistance from Romania and other NATO states.

Moldova’s process of embracing the bloc has accelerated recently. A joint Romanian-Moldovan task force equipped and trained in accordance with NATO standards is on its way. That step was agreed on in February. According to the military cooperation agreement signed by Chisinau and Bucharest in 2012 and ratified by the Moldovan parliament in 2013, Romanian troops and police forces enjoy freedom of movement on Moldovan territory. In other words, a NATO member has a free hand in Moldova, although the region of Transnistria, where Russian peacekeepers are stationed, is part of that country. This is a real hornet’s nest and the problem remains unaddressed.

The fact that Poland has shifted its best military forces, including its most modern tanks, eastward has not gone unnoticed in Russia. The country will receive 70 AGM-158B JASSM-ER long-range air-to-surface missiles from the US by 2020 or a bit earlier. With an operational range of roughly 1,000 km, this stealth weapon boasting a penetrating warhead can hit infrastructure deep inside Russia. One does not have to be a military expert to realize that the JASSM-ER’s prime mission is to knock out Russian Iskander short-range missiles deployed in the Kaliningrad region in a first strike.

The small Polish town of Powidz is to become a NATO hub for the Baltics and Northern Europe. Construction is underway to build a storage facility for a brigade’s worth of military hardware and personnel. The US Aegis Ashore BMD system will be operational in Poland this year. This is a highly destabilizing weapon that will become a target for a first strike by the Russian military.

Nor has Russia forgotten about the 300 US Marines stationed in Norway, or the construction of a sophisticated new radar system known as Globus 3 in the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. This is a violation of international law, as Svalbard was supposed to be demilitarized under a 1925 treaty. The facility there is an element of NATO’s ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. The joint US-Norwegian radar station is viewed by Moscow as a clear provocation. Norway is to be provided with over 50 US F-35 stealth fighters in 2019, enabling it to strike Russian territory. The F-35 is a nuclear-capable plane.

All these moves are being closely watched by the Russian military. Even if new weapons are incorporated into the bilateral arms-control agenda, the efforts to create the potential for a first strike near Russia’s borders are certainly not something Moscow can turn a blind eye toward. This does not create the right environment for a security dialog between Moscow and Washington. Everything is connected.

What Russia and the US really need is not just talks about curbing super weapons, but also negotiations addressing a much broader security agenda.

March 25, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Statement of Four: West Wages Multi-Front, Multi-Domain Campaign Against Russia

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 19.03.2018

Contain Russia in all spheres, squeeze it out everywhere you can, and ramp up pressure to make it kneel. It’s not a big thing to find a pretext to justify the orchestrated campaign launched by the West to put the relations with Moscow on confrontational footing. It stubbornly keeps on reviving the Cold War. This is a holistic policy with some actions hitting media headlines to focus world public attention on, while some moves are camouflaged and kept out of spotlight.

With so many doubts expressed about Moscow’s complicity in the Salisbury spy poisoning, the leaders of the UK, the US, Germany and France – the big four – made an unprecedented joint statement putting the blame on Russia. They did not find it necessary to wait for investigation results to say Moscow had violated international law and threatened their security. The statement says Russia did not cooperate with Britain. It does not mention the fact that Moscow was ready to meet London halfway but received no requests in line with the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The only thing Russia can be blamed for is its policy of refusing to communicate in the language of ultimatums.

Everything has suddenly become clear. Russia’s guilt is evident despite the fact that nothing new has been revealed since French President Macron’s spokesman warned the UK on March 14 against “fantasy politics”. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon had not investigated the case but the verdict was handed down. UK PM Theresa May was quite happy about the statement as it showed that the allies “are standing alongside us”.

On March 15, the US introduced new sanctions against Russia to punish it for alleged election meddling and cyberattacks. The announcement came together with the statement of the Big Four. As usual, the move is the result of allegations and claims not based on solid proof and established facts. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer believes it’s still “not enough”. He demands that President Trump introduce more sanctions and publicly denounce Russian President Putin. It’s just the first step, chimed in Senator Mark Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He wondered why it had taken so long.

That’s what is in the spotlight. Now, about the creeping offensive kept out of spotlight to be waged almost clandestinely. Few media have reported about the decision of the Polish government just announced by Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak to move “some of the army units” stationed in the west of the country to its eastern borders. The country’s military command system would be reformed because Russia is “unpredictable.”

Meanwhile, Romania is preparing to stage a “maidan” in Moldova to gobble it up. If the plan goes through, this post-Soviet country will become part of NATO and the EU, unleashing a chain reaction in the region considered a sphere of Russia’s influence. A coup is slated for March 24. Extremist groups are expected to capture the parliament building. Moldovan President Igor Dodon had predicted that the attempts to forcibly unify Moldova and Romania would lead to a civil war. The scenario events will most certainly spur separatist sentiments in Transnistria. No doubt, Russia will be blamed for “nefarious activities”, especially if it raises its voice in support of Moldovans’ right to decide their own fate without outside interference.

On March 14, the US announced a diplomatic offensive to squeeze Russia out from the Balkans. Wess Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, urged the nations of the region to resolve their disputes with the help of the West. He mentioned the possible expansion of the EU. Mr. Mitchell did not say so openly but there is little doubt it was an attempt to lure Belgrade away from Russia. Serbia is a country of special concern for the US military brass.

NATO has recently accused Moscow of interfering in the internal affairs of the Balkan countries, including information warfare. EU leaders wasted no time to express their concern over Russia’s policy in the region as Theresa May was ringing alarm bells over the Salisbury poisoning case. They are ready to engage Moscow in “information war”.

Making Russia responsible for the situation in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta is another direction of attack. Provocations are being planned to blame the Russia-backed Syria’s government for the use of CW.

The Salisbury poisoning, false flag chemical attacks in Ghouta, “battle for the Balkans”, provocations being prepared in Moldova, Estonia, Estonia, Latvia and Poland abruptly stepping up their fight against the Nord Stream-2 gas project in the Baltic Sea, as well as a lot of other things, are parts of a broader picture. The West is attacking Russia on all fronts and in all domains. There are no clear rules of the road. The pressure will be gradually being ratcheted up till Moscow bows and kneels.

As history teaches, this outcome is unlikely. But the policy may backfire to undermine the Western unity, which is extremely fragile. The West faces multiple threats and challenges; its very foundation is in jeopardy. These are the days when it needs partners more than artificially created enemies adding to the plethora of grave problems it is trying hard to tackle. Today it is wasting resources and effort on waging the well-orchestrated campaign against Moscow instead of coming up with constructive policy of ensuring its security and cohesion.

March 19, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The West Attacks Russia on the Eve of the Munich Security Conference: Blind to the Truth

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.02.2018

So, Russia is the biggest “threat” to European security? And this is what the West, which has done nothing to provoke Moscow, is concerned about? Moscow is to blame for the erosion of arms control, the military deployments in Europe, the close calls during military exercises, and much else that is undermining European security? This view is supported by the recent annual Munich Security Report, titled “To The Brink – And Back?” released on Feb. 8. That paper warns that the security situation will further deteriorate, possibly leading to a military clash.

The annual Munich Security Conference (MSC) will take place on February 16-18. No doubt the participants will paint Russia as a bully who is responsible for each and every thing that is going wrong, while the “innocent” West is calling for restraint and is ready to go to any length to preserve peace on earth.

The West is innocent? Russia is a bully and a threat? This is the right time to look at recent events to see what’s really happening. The US 2019 draft budget released on Feb. 12 asks Congress to approve over $6.3 billion for the US-led NATO European Reassurance Initiative (ERI). In other words, this money is to be spent on a military build-up near Russia’s borders. The ERI was launched in 2014 as a symbolic gesture to assuage East European fears. It has turned into a large-scale deployment that just keeps growing. The cost totaled $3.4 billion in FY 2017, and $4.8 billion in 2018. President Trump’s 2019 budget proposal also envisages $250 million in military aid to Ukraine, which Russia views as an openly provocative move.

The US budget allocates a total of $716 billion for national defense, including $24 billion to modernize its existing arsenal and create new offensive nuclear weapons. For comparison, the Russian 2017 defense budget was roughly $70 billion – about 1/10th of the size of the American appropriations. And the American budget isn’t just paying for weapons. It also includes $661.4 million for broadcasting purposes (the Broadcasting Board of Governors) or, to call a spade a spade, the information war against Russia.

On Feb. 12, a group of Democratic senators introduced a resolution pushing President Donald Trump to authorize new sanctions against Russia, in accordance with the Сountering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, CAATSA). They are infuriated by what they call the “lack of seriousness shown by the administration in the face of a clear national security threat.”

NATO is quietly beefing up its logistics infrastructure, preparing for a war with Russia. Norway is hosting US Marines, who are deployed near the Norwegian-Russian border. Oslo is to join the NATO missile defense system. The US military presence in Europe has been growing for two years. NATO has recently deployed four battle groups in Poland and the Baltic states and is stepping up its presence in the Black Sea.

There are events that are kept out of the spotlight, but that illustrate how NATO keeps on expanding, in order to undermine Russia’s security and interests. On Feb. 5, Romania, a NATO member, reached an agreement with Moldova to form a joint battalion to familiarize Moldovan military personnel with NATO’s standards. Officially, the unit is to be deployed only under “extraordinary circumstances.” This is the first time that the two countries’ militaries have ever created a joint unit. More than 800 Moldovan officers have undergone military training in Romania. The two countries plan to hold more joint military exercises.

Romania has expressed its strong support of the idea of having Russian peacekeepers withdrawn from Transnistria, with an OSCE mission to take their place. No doubt Bucharest plans to take part in such a mission. Romania has always supported the concept of unification with Moldova. That unification would include Transnistria, where Russian peacekeeping forces are deployed. Once the joint battalion has been created, NATO forces will be facing Russian troops eyeball to eyeball.

The Moldovan government has banned Russian broadcasting. It is striving to integrate with the EU and is sending its military to take part in NATO drills, including in Ukraine. Transnistria favors Russia and wants to join the Moscow-led Eurasian project. Its people reject the idea of integration with Romania. With the Russian peacekeepers gone, the probability of armed conflict will be high.

2018 is the year the NATO Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system is to be deployed in Poland. The system can fire Tomahawk surface-to-surface intermediate-range cruise missiles. It constitutes a flagrant violation of the INF Treaty. In the summer of 2018, Poland will host Anaconda 2018 – the largest NATO military exercise since the end of the Cold War. Roughly 100,000 troops, including 20,000 Polish soldiers, 5,000 armored vehicles, 150 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, and 45 ships will take part in the drills.

One of the issues being discussed at the NATO defense ministers’ meeting (Feb.14-15) is the establishment of two new headquarters – the first upgrade of the command structure since the breakup of the Soviet Union. A command responsible for maritime security will be hosted by the US. A command responsible for ground forces operations in Europe will be set up in Germany. The formal decision is to be made in July at the NATO summit.

The majority of the speakers at the upcoming Munich conference will blame Russia for everything that has gone awry. The “Russia is at it again” approach will prevail. The deployment of Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region will be cited as an example of Russian “aggressiveness.” Few speakers will remember who provoked Moscow into taking action to ensure its own security, or the violations of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act banning the deployment of substantial combat forces, or the breach of the INF Treaty that occurred with the positioning of the Aegis Ashore Mk-41 launchers capable of firing intermediate-range missiles. Few will make any attempt to empathize or to brainstorm ideas for finding common ground with Moscow. But hope dies last. In theory, the Munich conference is the right forum for sharing fresh ideas and making new proposals. It would be much more fruitful for NATO and Russia to steer the conversation toward something constructive instead of merely hurling mutual recriminations.

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

EU launches new ‘single resource’ website to counter ‘Russian propaganda’

RT | September 12, 2017

An EU agency, specifically tasked with fighting what the West terms ‘Russia propaganda,’ has launched its new website to provide Europeans with “a single resource” to “enlighten” them about alleged “pro-Kremlin propaganda.”

The site was launched in English, German and Russian. It’s part of the ongoing “EU vs disinformation” campaign waged by the EU’s East Stratcom Task Force.

“Today we launch our new website http://www.euvsdisinfo.eu, providing you with a single resource on addressing the challenge of pro-Kremlin disinformation,” a statement on the website says.

“This website is part of a campaign to better forecast, address and respond to pro-Kremlin disinformation,” it says further.

The webpage features a “searchable database of disinformation cases” and “interactive statistics” on the number of alleged disinformation cases, as well as on countries that are most frequently mentioned in what is perceived as “pro-Kremlin propaganda.”

Even though a disclaimer on the page says the Disinformation Review “focuses on key messages carried in the international information space, which have been identified as providing a partial, distorted or false view or interpretation and/or spreading key pro-Kremlin messaging,” it seems to be focusing solely on the latter.

The group also runs pages on Facebook and Twitter that are also aimed at revealing “manipulation and disinformation in pro-Kremlin media.” Its Facebook page called “EU vs Disinformation” was created in June 2016 while its “EU Mythbusters” Twitter page has been active since November 2015.

Both social media pages use a slogan that bears a striking resemblance to RT’s “Question More” catchphrase. “Don’t be deceived. Question even more,” it reads.

The East Stratcom Task Force was formed as part of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in early 2015 to tackle what the EU perceives as Russian propaganda. The EU said the group was tasked with countering disinformation about the Union and its policies in the “Russian language space.”

The EU’s “eastern European partners” – the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – were designated as their target audience.

In early 2017, the group received extra personnel and additional funding. The move came ahead of national elections in several European countries, including France, the Netherlands and Germany.

In November 2016, the European Parliament also adopted a non-legislative resolution which called for the EU to “respond to information warfare by Russia” and listed RT and the Sputnik news agency as one of the most dangerous “tools of hostile propaganda.”

Written by a Polish member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, Anna Fotyga, the report alleged that Moscow aims to “distort the truth, provoke doubt, divide the EU and its North American partners, paralyze the decision-making process, discredit the EU institutions and incite fear and uncertainty among EU citizens.”

The document went even further, placing Russian media organizations alongside terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

President Vladimir Putin said at the time that the EU Parliament’s resolution demonstrates “political degradation” in regard to the “idea of democracy” in the West.

The move was also criticized by the Russian envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, who said the EU tries to “erase the perception of Russia as an indispensable part of the European civilization from the public conscience” and to “create a wall of alienation and mistrust between our peoples.”

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Constitutional Crisis Brews in Moldova as Government Tests President’s Authority

Sputnik – 4 10.09.2017

Moldovan President Igor Dodon is demanding the resignation of Deputy Defense Minister Gheorghe Galbura for defying a presidential order to block the deployment of Moldovan troops to Ukraine to participate in NATO-led military drills. Speaking to Sputnik, regional expert Boris Rozhin warned that the country is on a path to a constitutional crisis.

The Moldovan government approved sending several dozen troops to Ukraine last week, ignoring Dodon’s decree to block the deployment. Dodon described the move as an ‘usurpation of power’ by the cabinet.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik about what’s likely to happen next, Boris Rozhin, an expert at the Center of Military-Political Journalism, said that the Moldovan government will be likely to try to ignore or challenge the president’s demand for Galbura’s resignation.

“This confrontation over sending the military abroad is an indication that the constitutional crisis in Moldova is deepening,” the expert said. “The parliament and the government are refusing to recognize the president’s authority as commander-in-chief to give orders to the country’s armed forces.”

“This issue will be considered at a meeting of the country’s Security Council, and most likely, by the constitutional court, as Dodon’s decision to dismiss the deputy defense minister will either be ignored or contested,” Rozhin added.

The expert believes that this confrontation between the branches of Moldova’s government is likely to continue until the next parliamentary elections, tentatively set for November 2018.

“The confrontation can be resolved through a decision of the constitutional court, which confirms or rejects Dodon’s right to issue orders to the Armed Forces, or deepen further and continue until the next parliamentary elections,” Rozhin said.

“After that, a reformatting of the legislature may take place. At the moment, the ruling establishment does not reflect the alignment of forces in Moldovan society, which has grown tired of the government’s push for European integration, which did not bring the hoped for economic and social improvements for ordinary people.”

As the constitutionally designated commander-in-chief, Dodon vetoed the government’s decision to send 57 National Guard troops to Ukraine for NATO exercises, reminding them that Moldova is a neutral state. Ignoring the president’s order, the contingent left for Ukraine anyway. The president also signed a decree which said that Moldovan military forces would not be allowed to be sent abroad for military exercises, training or any similar events without approval from the president.

The present crisis is not the first public conflict between Dodon and the cabinet o ministers. Earlier, the government asked the UN General Assembly to consider the removal of Russian peacekeeping troops from the breakaway republic of Transnistria. Dodon called the initiative an “empty PR move.” The president and the cabinet have faced off over Russia repeatedly, the government proposing a series of unfriendly gestures, with the president, in turn, saying that he would like to bring the country closer to Moscow.

Dodon, often described by Western political observers as ‘pro-Russian’, won presidential elections in 2016, defeating his pro-West, pro-EU opponent Maia Sandu. Moldova’s parliament and government are dominated by the pro-EU Democratic Party of Moldova, a social democratic party closely associated with oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, and a collection of independent MPs.

Commenting on the political situation in the country, political observer Viktor Marakhovsky wrote that it would be more correct to call Dodon ‘pro-Moldovan’ than ‘pro-Russian’, because the pro-EU elites he is up against have effectively “privatized political power in exchange for international grants, figuratively speaking.” Not only do they seek to give up sovereignty to EU structures; some have spearheaded a campaign pushing for Romania’s absorption of Moldova, a campaign actively supported by Bucharest.

Marakhovsky thinks that Dodon’s best hope will be to organize a referendum to ask Moldovans to approve the expansion of the president’s powers, fresh elections and returning the subject of the history of Moldova to the country’s schools, replacing ‘the history of Romania’ subject presently being taught.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Moldova Presses Russia over Transnistria: What Next?

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 28.08.2017

The government of Moldova has called on the United Nations to discuss the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the breakaway Transnistria region at the upcoming 72nd session of the General Assembly to open on September 12. A letter from the Permanent Representative of Moldova to the UN, Victor Moraru, was forwarded on August 22, calling the presence of Russian troops in Transnistria «a threat to international peace and security».

The Russian Federation has stationed about 1,200 troops in Transnistria in accordance with the «Agreement on the Principles for a Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Transnistrian Region of the Republic of Moldova» signed on July 21, 1992 by the presidents of Russia and Moldova in the presence of Transnistria’s leader. Transnistria, a largely Russian-speaking region, broke away from Moldova following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its relations with Moldova’s central government in Chisinau have been tense ever since. In 1992, a bloody armed conflict sparked, with civilian casualties estimated in hundreds on both sides. The truce ended a war between pro-Russian forces and the Moldovan military.

Besides the peacekeepers, there are also around 800 Russian military personnel who guard ammunition depots near Kolbasna settlement left over from the days of the USSR. Their scrapping and removal started in 2001, but was blocked by Transnistria’s residents in 2004 amid deteriorating relations with Chisinau.

In 2008, NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution urging Russia to «withdraw its illegal military presence from the Transnistrian region of Moldova in the nearest future». Since 2014, after conflict erupted in Ukraine, Moldova has banned Russian military from crossing its territory and the Russian Aerospace Forces from landing at the airport in Chisinau.

In November 2016, the defense ministers of Moldova and Ukraine concluded an agreement on the organization of a «green corridor» for the withdrawal of Russian troops, together with weapons, from the territory of the Transnistrian Republic. It was perceived by Moscow as a provocative move as neither Russia nor Transnistria had been consulted.

On May 2, the Constitutional Court of Moldova declared unconstitutional the presence of Russian soldiers on the territory of the Transnistrian region of the republic. On July 30, the Government of Moldova called the Russian peacekeepers «a factor in the freezing of the Transnistrian conflict».

In July, Moldova’s parliament adopted a declaration, asking Russia to withdraw its troops from Transnistria. The move came a day after the Moldovan Foreign Ministry warned the military aircraft with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on board was not allowed to land in Chisinau for a visit to mark the 25th anniversary of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Transnistria. Andrei Neguta, the Moldovan ambassador to Russia, was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin expressed a firm protest against the Moldovan government’s decision to declare Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin a persona non-grata.

The official emphasized that Russia has been consistently working to develop good relations with Moldova in the past few years. In contrast, Chisinau’s irresponsible steps are aimed at deliberately undermining bilateral relations.

Moldova’s President Igor Dodon condemned the declaration on withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers adopted by the parliament, accusing the pro-Western lawmakers of trying to worsen relations with the Russian Federation. He also claimed that such a decision could only come from «outside Moldova», presumably referring to Romania. Romania’s Prime Minister Mihai Tudose and several Romanian ministers were in Chisinau on July 21 – the day the resolution was passed – for a joint government meeting with the Moldovan executive.

The parliamentary resolution was not approved unanimously. «This is a serious violation of common sense. At least allow us to look at it properly», Socialist MP Vlad Batrancea said in parliament. «We believe this is a geopolitical provocation», he added. The lawmakers from the opposition Socialist Party left the parliament’s meeting in protest.

Transnistria’s legislators condemned the declaration, adopted by the Moldovan parliament. The Transnistrian authorities also strongly oppose the Moldova’s plan to withdraw Russian peacekeepers. During 25 years, the peacekeeping mission has been a success. There have been no clashes. After all, nobody else but Moldova insisted on an international peacekeeping force in 1992.

Russia considers Moldova’s letter to the United Nations requesting the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Transnistria as another hostile action. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, has objected to the Moldovan government’s call for the UN to discuss withdrawing Russian troops at the next month’s General Assembly session. He believes the «sudden move» was «not very friendly», especially in view that Moscow had not been warned in advance of this request. The Russian representative to the UN also said that this initiative of Moldova would not contribute to the 5 + 2 talks on Transnistrian settlement.

There is a very important aspect of the problem to be mentioned here. Chisinau puts forward the argument that the 1999 OSCE Istanbul summit included the commitment by the Russian Federation to withdraw from Transnistria by December 31, 2002. It fails to mention the fact that the agreement was linked to the provisions of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) that limited NATO and Warsaw force disposition in Europe. The treaty was never fully observed by NATO as it kept on expanding. In 2007, Russia suspended its participation in the treaty, and on 10 March 2015, citing NATO’s de facto breach of the CFE, Russia formally announced it was completely halting its participation in it as of the next day. The treaty has become history today, it’s not effective anymore. It’s worth to emphasize that the Istanbul document does not rescind the 1992 truce accord.

There is no doubt that the Moldovan letter is an element of the propaganda war to be used by the West in its effort to paint Russia as an «aggressor». Ukraine will use the opportunity for attacks against Russia.

And now, last but not least. Neither the Moldovan government, excluding the president, nor the parliament has mentioned the need to take into account the opinion of Transnistrian people. After all, they have the right for self-determination. The Moldovan letter to the United Nations includes everything but the right of the Transnistrian people to decide their own fate. Should Russia abandon them?

Is there any guarantee there will be no armed conflict sparked right after the Russian military personnel’s withdrawal? If Russia leaves and innocent people die again, will Moldova take on responsibility? Will it be ready to admit its guilt? Is there any other OSCE member but Russia willing to dispatch peacekeepers to Transnistria and shoulder the expenditure? Is there any progress on finding a solution to the problem through talks? Finally, is Moldova ready to provide answers to all these questions at the United Nations General Assembly’s session in September?

August 28, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Moldova to Become Foothold for US Military

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 10.08.2017

The former Soviet republic of Moldova may actually become yet another foothold for the US military in Europe. The US Naval Facilities Engineering Command Europe Africa Southwest Asia (NAVFAC EURAFSWA) plans to construct eight training facilities for military operations in urban terrain at the Bulboaca training base in Moldova. The fact that the US Navy Department is involved makes believe the facility will host American Marines.

A total of $1.6 million has already been invested in the renovation of the Bulboaca base located near Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria or the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic. The largely Russian-speaking region broke away from Moldova following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The secession led to an armed conflict that ended in a ceasefire in July 1992. Russian troops were deployed to the conflict zone in accordance with the «Agreement on the Principles for a Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Transnistrian Region of the Republic of Moldova», signed in 1992 by the presidents of Russia and Moldova in the presence of Transnistria’s leader.

Today, 450 Russian servicemen are carrying out the peacekeeping mission in accordance with the decisions of the 1999 Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit. Besides the peacekeepers, Russia holds units of the 1,200-strong Operative Group of the Russian Forces residing in Transnistria. The Transnistrian authorities strongly oppose Moldova’s plan to withdraw Russian peacekeepers, whom they see as guarantors of peace in the region. They point out that the mission has proved to be highly successful. The 25th anniversary since the start of the peacekeeping operation was marked in July.

Since 2005, talks on Transnistrian peace have been held in the so-called «5+2 format», which includes Moldova, Transnistria, the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine, plus the European Union and the United States in external observers’ roles.

Moldovan President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Igor Dodon stepped in to suspend the implementation of the plans to build a US military facility in Bulboaca, saying the move was not approved by him. The president said he will examine the issue. Meanwhile, the US stopped financing the project.

Anatol Șalaru, acting leader of the Party of National Unity and ex-Defense Minister, said he is going to sue President Dodon for undermining national security as the US suspended the $12, 7 military aid to modernize Moldova’s military through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program.

Moldova closely cooperates with the US and NATO. It joined the NATO Partnership for Peace program in 1994 and the Individual Partnership Action Plan in 2006. A NATO liaison office is to open in Chisinau soon.

Since 2016, Moldova has been included in a US regional program to build «more formidable defense capabilities… against aggressive actions by Russia or from other sources». Areas targeted include «border security and air/maritime domain awareness, as well as building stronger institutional oversight» of defense ministries. Last March, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the commander of US Army Europe, said that military engineers would head to Moldova as the US looks «for ways to do more exercises in the southern flank of NATO».

In February, the US donated 41 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) and trucks to the Moldovan Army. The military vehicles would be used during national and international exercises. In 2014, the US donated some other 39 HMMWV and 10 trailers for the military vehicles.

On July 24 — August 5, the base hosted the Dragoon Pioneer 2017, joint drills of US and Moldovan troops. Army Maj. Gen. John L. Gronski, Deputy Commanding General for Army National Guard, US Army. Europe, visited Moldova to watch the training event.

In late July, the Moldovan parliament passed a declaration demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the unrecognized Transnistrian Moldovan Republic. The resolution was supported by deputies from the ruling coalition led by the Democratic Party, as well as representatives of Liberals and Liberal Democrats. The lawmakers from the opposition Socialist Party left the meeting in protest. Moldovan President Igor Dodon condemned the parliament’s decision, calling it a provocation.

Moscow expresses concern over the Moldovan policy in Transnistria. Russian military personnel movements are obstructed by Moldavan authorities. In late July, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was barred by the Moldovan government from flying to Transnistria in a military plane to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Russia’s deployment of peacekeepers there. Russia retaliated by halting imports of Moldovan farm produce, depriving Europe’s poorest country of a key market for its wine, fruit and vegetables. In early August, Moldovan authorities declared Rogozin persona non grata. Actually, the relations had begun to worsen much earlier after the expulsion of five Russian diplomats in May. President Igor Dodon believes that the government embarked on provocations against Russia in order to complicate relations.

Moscow has accused Moldova of undermining their relations and threatening regional stability. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement reads: «High-ranking Russian representatives and peacekeepers but also ordinary citizens of both countries have recently become targets of provocations. It seems that Chisinau politicians are trying to get to the forefront of the hysterical and hopeless campaign that has been launched against the Russian Federation». It adds that dangerous actions may have a serious destabilising influence on the general situation in the region and Europe as a whole. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moldova’s decision to ban Rogozin was «much worse» than even the new tough US economic sanctions on Russia.

The US military presence is expanding everywhere, including areas in the proximity of Russia’s borders, such as Transnistria. This is a very dangerous development to make US forces and Russian peacekeepers watch each other through gun sights. Moscow and Chisinau may have different views and divisions but it does not make them adversaries.

With Russian peacekeepers gone, the situation would exacerbate and a spark would be enough to restart the hostilities – something that has been prevented since 1992. By hosting US-operated facilities on its territory, Moldova, a neutral state, will become a target for a Russian retaliatory strike. Parliamentary elections are expected to be held in Moldova in November 2018. Hopefully, the voters will make the right choice, electing more responsible people to end incessant provocations and adopt a more reasonable foreign policy. If the hopes come true, Russia and Moldova will become friends and good neighbors again.

August 10, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Brussels, NATO, and the Globalists: In Total Disarray

By Phil Butler – New Eastern Outlook – 17.03.2017

The EU, NATO, and the western alliance have utterly failed the people of eastern Europe. The unrequited love of former Soviet bloc nations is slowly turning to scorn. The Euromaidan and ensuing civil war have laid bare an ideological and cultural divide ages old. With Brussels and NATO reeling from recent events, the fear mongering used to leverage aligned nations is losing its effectiveness.

A meeting in between Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Moldova’s former PM and current head of the Socialist party, Zinaida Greceanîi in Moscow reveals the general eastern shift to Russia. While the world watches and waits on the next fantastical Donald Trump moment, the Russian administration continues to mend fences and to create new bonds of friendship. To the south and west of Moldova a score of EU member states discuss a “Brexit-like” abandonment of a globalist system many see as doomed to failure. And Moldova’s plight since the fall of the Soviet Union is a picture window into the biggest international experiment in history. To quote Ms. Greceanîi on Moldova’s recent elections and the lean toward Russia:

“We won because the majority of Moldovans are for strategic partnership with Russia. In 2014, our current pro-European coalition in the parliament signed an agreement on association with the European Union, and, frankly, we got almost nothing in return from the European Union, while sustaining a major economic setback by losing the Russian market and our strategic partner. This is what happens when politicians who try to destroy age-old ties and traditions between our peoples come to power.”

The Moldovan politician expressed what is a growing sentiment toward the European Union. The poorest country of the former Soviet republics, Moldova is perhaps the most neglected country in Europe. And recent calls from the south for Moldova and Romania to reunite foretell of the wider neglect of nations in the region. Hungary to the west has begun a Russia lean as well, and Bulgaria to the south of Romania was never fully a western satrap. Upheaval in Bucharest over real or perceived corruption by leadership, Greece’s ongoing plight, the old sounds of Serbia and even countries like Slovenia – send a clear signal. We’ve seen the evidence of a collapse of confidence in the western alliance for some time. Tomáš Kostelecký, Director of the Institute of Sociology at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague had this to say about a series, “25 Years after the fall of the Berlin Wall”:

“Overall I think the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland are examples of countries that came out well, whereas for others it was not so successful.”

A poll conducted in Czech Republic in 2014 showed that more than half the people there considered life before and after Soviet rule the same. In other words, most people in even the richest former Soviet bloc countries see no difference in the two systems. Many people see the spread of so-called democracy as a total lie. While free movement allowing Romanians (for instance) to travel to Germany for better paying jobs is a plus, Romanians choosing to stay home have been devastated by corruption, austerity, and the loss of potential to globalization.

In Romania a poll conducted back in 2014 showed half of Romanians held a positive view of their condemned leader Nicolae Ceausescu and believe that life was better under him. The same poll showed that of the 1,460 respondents, 54 percent claimed that they had better living standards during communism, while 16 percent said that they were worse. I make this point because of the strategic and ideological importance of Romania. Of all the countries in the EU, Romania was by far the most pro-democracy – the people there betting all their futures on the American promise. I know this because my wife is from Romania and her father was one of the unsung heroes of the revolution there in 1989. Romania has a history of picking the wrong side, and EU membership did about as much for Romanians as their brothers and sisters in separated Moldova.

In Hungary the recent visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin sent western mainstream media on a rant. But the fact the Hungarian economy has been hammered by the food embargo introduced by the Kremlin in response to US and EU sanctions against Moscow is but one sour note on EU policies in the region. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Hungary, Peter Szijjarto told Kommersant the other day:

“According to our estimates, the loss of profit for Hungary amounts to $6.5 billion over the last three years. We are speaking about exports. Given that the annual volume of Hungarian exports is about $90 billion, the losses are biting,”

Hungary’s recent overtures toward Russia are freaking the parliamentarians in Brussels out at the same time leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel try and come to grips with thawing of relations between Moscow and Washington under U.S. President Donald Trump. A new wave of populism sweeping all Europe is seen by the left wing as some Russian conspiracy, when in reality the movement is a change of errant course. These former Soviet bloc countries are a kind of litmus tests that shows the EU was never a fair game in the first place. Germany and the central Europeans thrived for a time, while other nations were left to stagnate. In a recent poll conducted in Hungary, 75% of those asked favored pragmatic relations with Russia as opposed to only 5% saying that “Hungary should not even talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin at all”.

The Turkish reset with Russia, especially the renewal of the so-called “south stream pipeline” project mirrors the Russia tilt in Greece, Macedonia, Slovenia, Italy, and other formerly devout NATO-EU devotees. President Putin just recently praised Slovenia for an invite for a Trump-Putin summit in the country’s capital of Ljubljana. Slovenia, the native country of First Lady Melania Trump, is a literal stepping stone in what some will remember from Putin’s Vladivostok to Lisbon initiative. No matter how one classifies all these geo-political moves, the clear trend in favor of Russia ties is crystal clear. The globalist Washington Post called the trend “Europeans bowing to the power of Putin”, when in reality the motives are pragmatism and logic. Moving away from big promises and failure toward a change is only a natural thing.

Finally, in 2014 Germany’s former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder blamed European Union policy for the current situation in Ukraine, and he also urged the West to stop new sanctions on Russia. Now we are seeing that Schroeder was right. At the other end of the German political spectrum, German Left Party (Die LInke), Dr. Sahra Wagenknecht has railed against Chancellor Angela Merkel, NATO, and the west in general for failed policies and the destruction of détente with Russia. At the center of her arguments lay a cerifiable truth of Eastern European affairs since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In an interview with German Radio, Dr. Wagenknecht spoke about America’s “substantial economic interests” (“handfeste wirtschaftliche Interessen”) in the Ukraine, as a big part of Europe’s problem:

“There are substantial economic interests: the Americans have been in the Ukraine since the beginning. They have even made agreements with Ukrainian companies, even investing in some of them. So there are substantial economic interests, and it is all the more critical that Europe not be dragged into this (by the Americans), but that we act in our own interests. This means peace and cooperation of course with Russia, improving the relationship which has cooled off markedly in the past months.”

The common thread running through the new west-east crisis is “financial interest”. This will be the focus of my next report. For now though, it is not the Trump White House that seems in disarray, but Brussels and the NATO alliance. Stay tuned.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe.

March 17, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chisinau to Negotiate Status of Breakaway Transnistria in Moldova in 2017

Sputnik – 04.02.2017

CHISINAU – Moldova’s Prime Minister Pavel Filip stated that the issue of defining the details of the special legal status of the self-declared republic Transnistria as a part of Moldova will be a top priority in 2017 for Chisinau.

“In 2017, our main interest is to raise the issue … of elaboration of the special legal status of Transnistria as a part of Moldova within the negotiating process,” Filip said following the meeting with Austrian Prime Minister and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Sebastian Kurz.

Filip stressed that Chisinau opposed federalization and considered it “not a good decision.”

The Moldovan prime minister expressed hope that the negotiations on the Transnistrian settlement would be more consistent and productive, making specific mention of “the intensification of 5+2 format meetings” in 2017.

The Transnistrian conflict began in 1990 when Transnistria, a region with a predominantly ethnic Russian and Ukrainian population, seceded from the Soviet Republic of Moldova, fearing possible reunion with Romania. The separation led to a conflict known as “The Transnistria War” that ended in a ceasefire declared on July 21, 1992. However, the conflict remains unresolved and the breakaway republic continues to be governed by an independent de facto government.

Since 2005, the talks on the conflict have been held in a 5+2 format, where the ‘five’ refers to Transnistria, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE, and the ‘two’ are the EU and US, which act as external observers. The latest round was held on June 2-3, 2016 in Berlin.

February 4, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Transnistria and Donbass: Historical Parallels and Possible Similar Scenarios for the Future

By Halyna Mokrushyna | CounterPunch | January 13, 2017

On January 4, President Igor Dodon of Moldova met with Vadim Krasnoselskiy, the head of the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria). The meeting took place in Bendery, on the right bank of Dniester river, on the territory of the Transnistria. It was initiated by the president of Moldova.

Igor Dodon was elected Moldovan president on November 13 on a platform advocating improved relations with Russia.

During the meeting, both sides established a good contact and expressed openness and willingness to compromise. Concrete decisions have been taken to improve relations between Moldova and Transnistria. “Citizens on both sides of the Dniester River (which runs through the territory of Moldova and the right (eastern) border of Transnistria) should see the concrete results during 2017,” stated President of Moldova Igor Dodon .

The president of Transnistria Vadim Krasnoselskiy stressed the importance of compromise with Moldova for people living on both sides. “We must create the conditions so that people are not held hostage to politics, so that decisions taken by politicians are for the benefit of the people. We must respect the people of Moldova and Transnistria and find a compromise in any case”, stated Vadim Krasnoselskiy.

During the meeting, the first in eight years, the presidents of Moldova and Trasnistria discussed a whole range of practical issues that have accumulated in recent years, including problems in education, registration of vehicles, communication, movement of citizens, rail transport, recognition of diplomas and car plates.

At the same time, political issues were not discussed. Recognition of the independence of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) by Chisinau remains the main bone of contention between the two republics. Chisinau designates PMR as the Transnistria autonomous territorial unit with special legal status. PMR is not recognized by any country, member of the UN, while the UN itself considers PMR to be part of Moldova.

PMR emerged as a reaction of the mostly Slavic population of this territory to the rise of pro-Romanian nationalism among ethnic Moldovans in the late 1980s, the period of Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost in Russia. The most prominent movement formed at that time, the Popular Front of Moldova, formulated three main demands: that Moldovan be declared the only state language, that the Moldovan language switch to use of the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic one, and that Moldovan ethnic identity be recognized as identical to Romanian one. The radical factions of the Popular Front called for minority populations, particularly the Slavs (mainly Russians and Ukrainians) and Gagauz, to leave or be expelled from Moldova.

The Supreme Council of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic followed through on main three demands: on August 31, 1989 it adopted Moldovan as the only official language, while retaining Russian for secondary purposes; it introduced the Latin alphabet; and it declared a shared Moldovan-Romanian linguistic identity. The publicly stated intentions of the Moldovan authorities to bring the country closer to Romania, as well as the ethnocentric rhetoric of the Popular Front, provoked serious concerns of ethnic minorities in the country. Transnistria’s population was predominantly Slav – 60% were Ukrainians and Russians, while less than 40% were ethnic Moldovans. The overall majority of the population, including some ethnic Moldovans, spoke Russian as their mother tongue.

The nationalist Popular Front won the first free parliamentary elections in the Moldavian SSR in the spring of 1990. On 2 September 1990, the Second Congress of the Peoples’ Representatives of Transnistria proclaimed the creation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. Violence escalated when in October 1990, the Popular Front called for volunteers to form armed militias to stop an autonomy referendum in Gagauzia. In response, volunteer militias were formed in Transnistria.

Limited armed clashes between Transnistrian militia and Moldova started in November of 1990. Volunteers from Russia came to support Transnistrians. In early 1992, the fighting intensified. The former Soviet 14th Guards Army, stationed in Transnistiria, which remained neutral throughout the fighting, entered the conflict in its final stage, swearing allegiance to Transnistrian authorities and opening fire against Moldovan forces. A ceasefire agreement was signed on 21 July 1992 and has held to the present day.

The history of the emergence of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic holds several striking similarities with the current conflict in Ukraine. There, the people of the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts in eastern Ukraine rebelled against the nationalist rhetoric of the Euromaidan movement and the government brought to power through a coup d’état on February 21-22, 2014. One of the first steps of that government was to abolish the existing law on languages in Ukraine granting Russian a special status in Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine. Ukrainian is the only official language in Ukraine. Changes to the language law in 2013 granted Russian a special status in areas of majority or large minority Russian speakers, but the law was bitterly opposed by Ukrainian nationalists.

Another similarity is the linguistic profiles of Ukraine and Moldova. Like Transnistria, where the majority of population speaks Russian, Donetsk and Lugansk regions are the only regions of Ukraine, where Russian language is spoken by the large majority of the population. Population of these regions of Ukraine has always been close to Russia culturally, as with the population of Transnistria. Russian volunteers poured into Transnistria to help locals to defend their rights against Moldovan nationalism; in the same way 20 years later, Donetsk and Lugansk received the support of volunteers from Russia in their fight against Ukrainian nationalism and against a forceful integration into the European Union by the coup government that came to power in 2014. They wanted closer ties with Russia. However, Russia has not officially recognized the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as it has not recognized the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. Russia does provide extensive humanitarian assistance to both entities and maintains extensive economic and cultural relations.

Moldova has not officially recognized Transnistria. But at least it stopped waging war against against the breakaway republic, and it has settled into an uneasy coexistence. The relations between Moldova and Transnistria are often characterized as a “frozen conflict”. All attempts to find a formula for political settlement of the unrecognized status of the PMR between the PMR and Moldova have not produced any result.

Since independence in 1991, Moldova, like Ukraine some 20 years later, set out on a course of economic integration into the European Union. Even the so-called ‘pro-Russian’ Moldovan presidents over the years, such as Vladimir Voronin (2001-2009), followed this course very closely. For example, in 2003, Voronin refused to sign a memorandum proposed by the Russian Federation outlining plans for a unification of Moldova and the PMR into a federal state of Moldova. Voronin stated that since Moldova plans to join European Union, such a plan needed the approval of ‘European structures’, beginning with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’, and therefore he could not endorse it.

In the current conflict between Kyiv and Donetsk and Lugansk republics, Russian officials have stated on many occasions that the two republics (comprising the historic industrial region called ‘Donbass’) should be granted a large autonomy within a unitary Ukraine, in spite of the evident desire of the populations of the two breakaway republics to desire to integrate into the Russian Federation.

The ceasefire and political-settlement agreement signed in Minsk, Belarus on Feb 12, 2015 (termed ‘Minsk-2’, text here) with the endorsement of France, Germany, and Russia, outline beginning principles of this autonomy, but Kyiv has been stubbornly sabotaging the agreement.

The new president of Moldova, Igor Dodon, is proving himself a wiser and more mature politician compared to Ukrainian leaders, as shown by his visit to the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic. He declared that Moldova under his presidency will remain a neutral country, not choosing between European Union or Russia. The population of Moldova, like the population of Ukraine, has always been split in its political and cultural sympathies towards Europe and Russia. Most Moldovans and probably a majority of Ukrainians believe the best way to keep their country safe and whole is by preserving a neutral status between the EU and the Russia-dominated Eurasian Economic Union to the east. Dodon has demonstrated a practical approach of compromise and negotiation in the interests of the population of both Moldova and the PMR.

Kyiv should follow Dodon’s example because it is the only path to peace in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the current political regime in Kyiv is unlikely to do that. The news of Dodon’s meeting with the president of the PMR was not even reported by mainstream Ukrainian media.

The recent call of one of the richest Ukrainian oligarchs, Viktor Pinchuk, to make painful compromises with Russia and implement Minsk-2 and return to a neutral status for Ukraine to reach peace in Donbass, has been repudiated by Poroshenko’s administration. Konstantin Eliseev, the deputy head of the Presidential Administration, stated that Ukraine will never turn away from integration into the European Union and NATO . (See my Dec 31, 2016 article ‘ Prominent member of Ukraine’s elite issues call for peace in Donbass’.)

But to the ongoing consternation of officials of the Kyiv government, full membership of Ukraine in the European Union has always been treated cautiously and even reluctantly by European Union officials. They have used the idea to foment conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which is not the same as supporting and facilitation it, as Ukrainians are today learning.

Ukrainians blindly mistook a loose economic association with Europe as being a step toward an inevitable, full integration into the European Union. They naively hoped that the European Union will solve the economic disaster that the country became following independence in 1991, particularly following the failed ‘Orange Revolution’ of 2005 in which competing interests among the country’s economic elite fought for domination amidst a backdrop of deep, social protest by ordinary Ukrainians.

This blind, naïve hope has brought further economic disaster and civil war in Ukraine. The official Ukrainian propaganda blames Russia for all of the troubles beginning in 2013 and it refuses to recognize Kyiv’s fault in its unleashing of a so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation (complete with its own, catchy acronym—the ‘ATO’) against its own people. Kyiv relied heavily on U.S. support in the conflict with Russia. Now, that support may dwindle if President-elect Donald Trump carries through his various, offhand statements that he is interested in seeking improved relations with Russia.

Kyiv should review its categorical refusal to accommodate Donetsk and Lugansk if it wants to keep Donbass within Ukraine. Otherwise the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics will follow the path of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic in exercising a permanent autonomy. It is a very plausible scenario, given the fact that the conflict in Donbass has been frozen for more than two years and Ukraine continues to punish the two republics with unceasing artillery fire and a punishing economic blockade.

Halyna Mokrushyna is currently enrolled in the PhD program in Sociology at the University of Ottawa and a part-time professor. She holds a doctorate in linguistics and MA degree in communication. Her academic interests include: transitional justice; collective memory; ethnic studies; dissent movement in Ukraine; history of Ukraine; sociological thought.  Her doctoral project deals with the memory of Stalinist purges in Ukraine. In the summer of 2013 she travelled to Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv and Donetsk to conduct her field research. She is currently working on completing her thesis. She can be reached at halouwins@gmail.com.

January 13, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment