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U.S.-made HIMARS missile systems in Romania aimed against Russian forces in Transnistria

By Paul Antonopoulos | March 5, 2021

The first batch of U.S.-made HIMARS multi-launch missile systems arrived in the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanța and is now a part of the national army. The first to receive the new missile system is the 81st Tactical Operational Missile Battalion, deployed in Focșani, about 70 kilometers from the border with Moldova.

HIMARS artillery missile systems are designed to attack areas with a concentration of artillery systems, air defenses, transport nodes and other major targets that are within a 300-kilometer range. Considering Romania borders Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia, the country has no enemies within the scope of HIMARS, bringing to question why it purchased such systems. It is difficult to explain why such a powerful weapon is deployed in eastern Romania, 220 kilometers from the Moldovan city of Tiraspol and 270 kilometers from the ammunition depot in Cobasna in the separatist region of Transnistria – which is internationally recognized as a part of Moldova.

It must be noted that the U.S. approved the sale of 20 HIMARS launchers, worth $655 million, to Poland. Romania received 54 launchers, more than double the amount of Poland, showing that the U.S. is prioritizing the Black Sea as a point of pressure against Russia – more so than the Baltics. Whereas the German Navy are present in the Baltics and the British can reach the area with relative ease, the Black Sea is effectively a “Russian lake,” particularly after Russia’s 2014 reunification with Crimea. NATO member states Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania do not have the capabilities to challenge the Russian Navy in the Black Sea, hence why Washington is also cooperating with Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia.

But the question still remains – why would Bucharest need 54 HIMARS launchers, more than the American artillery brigade has, and more than 10% of all such systems in the Pentagon’s arsenal?

It is excessive fire power for an army that has only 70,000, personnel and does not have the means to redeploy heavy weapons at a great distance. According to Firepower, Romania is ranked only 41st globally for their military power.

Hypothetically, in a war situation, the 41st U.S. Artillery Brigade could borrow the Romanian HIMARS systems and transport them to Georgia or Ukraine. At the end of 2020, U.S. ground forces conducted exercises to prepare for a “hi-tech war” in Romania. In a few hours they managed to transport by air two HIMARS systems from Germany to the Kogâlniceanu Air Base and launch several rockets towards the Black Sea – there is little doubt that the imagined target was Russian forces when we consider that it is only 400 kilometers between the Romanian coast and Russia. Although this is 100 kilometers less than the range of the HIMARS system, according to Forbes, the exercises were “a message for Moscow” and a “rocket surprise” for Russian forces in Crimea.

The political-military situation in the region is becoming increasingly tense, with Moldova coming within range of American weapons and soldiers based in Romania. According to the Constitution, the Republic of Moldova is a neutral state, but decisionmakers in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau and their Romanian counterparts in Bucharest concluded a military cooperation agreement in 2013, which de facto subordinates Moldovan troops to the Romanian General Staff and allows Romanian gendarmes to maintain “public order” in the country. With Romania effectively controlling Moldova’s security and President Maia Sandu pivoting her country towards NATO and the European Union, Chisinau could be a willing participant in the West’s sustained campaign to pressure Moscow.

Analysts at the Pentagon-affiliated RAND Corporation are examining how U.S. troops could enter Moldova to participate in military exercises and not leave, using the pretext of the so-called Russian threat. American maneuvers and armament in Eastern Europe not only threatens Russia, but serves to ensure that Romania and Baltic States stay loyal to Washington and against Moscow.

If the U.S. is successful in stationing troops in Moldova, they would effectively have new access to the Black Sea via the Port of Giurgiulești on the Danube River. In addition, U.S. troops would be within touching distance of the 1,500-strong Operational Group of Russian Forces in Transnistria, whose responsibilities include maintaining peace and guarding several tons of military equipment and ammunition in Cobasna.

Although the HIMARS system cannot reach Russia from Romania, it is likely that these missiles are aimed against Russian forces maintaining peace in Transnistria. 54 HIMARS in Romania’s arsenal demonstrates an escalation by Bucharest as it is clear that the excessive number of units is not for defensive purposes, especially considering the country’s cordial relations with its neighbors.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

March 5, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | 1 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

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

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

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

US Election Campaign: Shaping Policy on Russia

By Andrei AKULOV | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.07.2016

Donald Trump has secured the nomination of the Republican Party to become the next US president.

It has been a controversial campaign and the US policy on Russia is in the process of being shaped. While the media focused on Melania Trump’s plagiarism and other oddities during the Republican National Convention, something very important happened to provide a clue to the GOP presidential candidate’s stand on the issue. The Republican Party officially altered its platform on Ukraine and Russia.

Trump’s team proved its grip on the Republican Party is tight enough to make the entire institution adopt a new view on a major foreign policy issue. Trump-supporting delegates attending the GOP platform meeting in Cleveland insisted that the wording in the initial proposal be altered. They wrote a new amendment ruling out sending US weapons to Ukraine and made sure the new Republican platform does not include a provision calling for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces, despite the fact that this view is widely supported by the GOP’s establishment.

The previous platform advocated «providing lethal defensive weapons» to Ukraine, reflecting the virtually unanimous position of the GOP foreign policy elite and national security leaders. Donald Trump won again.

Trump is a sober-minded politician known for his non-ideological, deal-making nature. Unlike other prominent Republicans, he harbors none of Russophobia. Trump realizes that sanctioning and the attempts to «isolate» Russia are bad for business and thriving business is what makes a nation great. He’s a pragmatic global dealmaker who keeps in mind the interests of an average Joe, not global imperial ambitions that make the US overloaded with international commitments and overstretched. Trump has exposed that the Republican party’s rank-and-file members are much less interventionist than previously thought. They don’t want confrontations or military operations abroad – the lessons and losses of Iraq and Afghanistan are too fresh. Trump has repeatedly said that radical Islamism and terrorism is a greater threat to Europe than Russia. He said he would «get along very well» with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mike Flynn, foreign policy advisor to Trump, has suggested that Moscow and Washington join forces to counter Islamic State in the Middle East.

The change of wording at the GOP program is telling but it does not signify the change of policy yet.

There is another important development that went down almost unnoticed by media.

On July 14, members of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs passed a bill to tighten sanctions against Russia.

It contains new innovations to provide support for Ukraine. The Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act strictly binds the powers of the American President to lift sanctions against Russia with the status of Crimea.

The bill forbids NATO members from exporting arms containing US technology to Russia. It requires a regular report on foreign financial institutions «illicitly controlling Ukraine state-owned assets – namely Russian banks in Crimea». The proposed legislation extends the existing Magnitsky Act to new territories, including Crimea, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria.

If the document is approved, the head of the United States will be able to lift the measures against Moscow only in two cases: after confirmation of the «restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea» or if it is proved that «the decision on the status of the Peninsula was under international control and recognized the democratically elected Ukrainian government». The bill also seeks to establish an international consortium to draw private investment in Ukraine by minimizing political risk to would-be private investors.

The proposed act poses a serious threat to the Russia-US relationship. While Washington repeatedly states that the lifting of sanctions depends on the implementation of the Minsk agreements, Moscow believes it’s ridiculous to link the sanctions with the implementation of the Minsk agreements, because Russia is not a party to the conflict and not the subject of the agreements on the settlement in Ukraine. If the bill becomes a law and Donald Trump wins the November election, he’ll have no choice but to comply with the new legislation’s provisions.

Indeed, there are conflicting trends in the US policy on Russia.

On July 20, important news related to the Russia-US relations was largely kept out of media headlines. Russian and US experts and military agreed to meet in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the Syrian issue.

«We proceed on the basis that the military and political experts will launch intensive work in Geneva in the coming days in furtherance of the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow», the source said.

This is one of the results of the talks held in Moscow as part of the visit of the Secretary of State John Kerry on July 14-15.

During the visit, he was received by Russian President Vladimir Putin, held talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It was stated on the ministerial meeting that the sides agreed on specific steps to make the work on Syria more effective. No specific details of the agreed plan were provided. If the plan goes through, it will unite Russia and the US in the fight against the common enemy. But military cooperation and sanctions are hardly compatible. Evidently, there are conflicting trends that are shaping the US policy on Russia as the election race continues.

We’ve yet to make precise how the Democratic convention to take place in Philadelphia on July 25-28, 2016 will define its stance on Russia. One thing is certain – a large sector of American society stands for normal relations with Moscow. The alterations inserted into the GOP program serve as an irrefutable evidence to confirm this fact.

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Committed to Playing Active Role in Transnistria Dispute Negotiations

Sputnik — 26.08.2015

Washington is committed to be fully engaged in the talks aimed at settling the Transnistria conflict, US Secretary of State John Kerry stated in a statement on Wednesday.

“You may be sure that America will remain unwavering in its support for Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will continue to play an active role in the 5+2 negotiations aimed at peacefully resolving the Transnistria dispute,” Kerry said.

Kerry issued his statement on the occasion of Moldova’s National Day. The secretary stressed the US support for Moldova government’s efforts to undertake reforms.

Transnistria, a region with a predominantly Russian and Ukrainian population broke away from the Soviet republic of Moldova in 1990, fearing its government could seek reintegration with neighboring Romania. The initiative triggered Moldova’s offensive on the region in 1992, after which it lost control over the Dniester River’s left bank.

The region is now striving for international recognition, while Moldova offers Transnistria autonomy within a unitary state.

The 5+2 format negotiators include Russia, Moldova, Transnistria, Ukraine, the OSCE and observers from the European Union and the United States.

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

South-East Ukraine Is the Real Target of Kiev’s Donbass Blockade

Unable to reconquer Donbass Kiev wants it as an economic basket case to dampen secessionist feeling in the rest of South-East Ukraine

Government army keeps the groceries at bay
By Marko Marjanović | Russia Insider | August 21, 2015

In a process that begun in July 2014 and was completed November later that year the Ukrainian government in Kiev severed all links to rebel-held Donbass in east Ukraine. This meant it stopped making social payments to citizens and de-funded all state institutions: courts, registries, hospitals, banks, post offices and state-owned enterprises.

Strategically this was a mistake.

Nothing would have underscored the legitimacy of Kiev’s rule in east Ukraine more, but for it to continue to perform many of the functions of the state there. Likewise, the people in east Ukraine could not have helped but notice it was Kiev which continued to supply them with services the rebels were incapable, and Russia unwilling, to provide.

As it was the Kiev government became a solely negative factor in their lives – what with its offensive military operations and the arming up of neo-Nazis.

Instead, it was the rebels which were forced to pick up the slack and which now – along with the prestige of being the people who keep the neo-Nazis at bay – enjoy also the legitimacy of being the people who provide the electricity, water, heating, pensions and medical care to Donbass people.

In fact, initially the two rebel statelets – the DPR and LPR – were reluctant and slow to take responsibility for many of these tasks so they should really thank Kiev for forcing them to take their state-building of rival, secessionist republics seriously.

Nonetheless, the argument laid above is a sophisticated one. As such it is understandable that Kiev did not appreciate it, but instead pulled out following the crude logic that dumping social responsibilities in the lap of the rebels would serve to decrease the amount of resources they could dedicate to building up their military capacities.

It is much less understandable why Kiev followed up its pullout from Donbass with a fully-fledged economic blockade.

The two most clear-cut consequences the blockade has had was to enable Poroshenko to act the hardliner, as well as to definitely win the hearts and minds of Donbass residents for the rebels.

Research conducted in March of this year showed the blockade helped an astounding 93% of people in rebel-held east Ukraine to transfer their loyalties away from Kiev.

This is scarcely surprising since Poroshenko very much openly proclaimed the blockade was intended as continuation of war by means of collective reprisals against the civilians of Donbass:

“We will have our jobs – they will not. We will have our pensions – they will not. We will have care for children, for people and retirees – they will not.

Our children will go to schools and kindergartens… theirs will hole up in the basements. Because they are not able to do a thing.

This is exactly how we will win this war!”

Exactly how Poroshenko thought this would win the war for Kiev is a mystery. The idea unarmed civilians would rise against armed rebels originating from their midst – and then for the benefit of their Maidan-affiliated tormentors was always bizarre.

Likewise the idea that Donbass – which controlled a stretch of border with Russia – could actually be brought to its knees and forced to beg for mercy.

Dreadfully enough, during the winter of 2014-15 the blockade indeed contributed to a major humanitarian crisis. There was little food to buy and severe shortages of many types of medicine. There were even reports of individual deaths – usually of socially isolated pensioners, now without pensions. No doubt things would have been even worse without humanitarian assistance from Russia.

This situation, however, has now been long superseded. Between commerce with Russiasmuggling across front lines, and transit from government-held Ukraine via Russia conditions in Donbass, as regards supplies, are now livable enough. – And there are no signs that Donbass is ready to fall on its knees before the government in Kiev as Poroshenko predicted in November.

If anything we must assume that many eastern Ukrainians in rebel-held territories feel a measure of pride at having withstood Kiev’s attempted strangulation of their region.

In other words, aside from being morally repugnant the blockade has proven an utter failure in its stated goal of bringing Donbass back under central control – but has instead made this goal more distant than ever.

Familiar lines (in this case from the 2004 election)

It is more likely that the politicians in Kiev regarded Donbass lost from the onset and the blockade was instead enacted for their own political purposes. – That is merely to show they were still “doing something” to bring it back even after they called off large-scale military operations in face of losses and defeats. (And even as the blockade was having the exact opposite effect.)

It is true, however, that the war and the blockade has meant that material quality of life in rebel-held territories is even worse than in areas under government control.

This must come as a disappointment to many since we can recall that hope for a better economic situation was perhaps the main mobilizing force behind the pro-Russian rallies in eastern Ukraine in the wake of Maidan.

By and large the masses of people who came out for counter-Maidan rallies in February, March and April 2014 across eastern Ukraine were not signing up for adventure and armed uprising (that came much later as reaction to heavy-handedness and intransigence of Maidan-controlled Kiev).

What they were calling for instead was for the relatively more orderly and economically prosperous Russia to swiftly take them under their wing – as it had just done with Crimea (thrilling its inhabitants).

Of course, the disappointment that Russia did not take over responsibility for Donbass is unlikely to translate into desire by its inhabitants to be taken over by the Maidan-affiliated forces that are shelling, blockading and demonizing them daily.

What the blockade may do, however, is demonstrate to other anti-Maidan Ukrainians that no matter the debt of economic abyss that Ukraine is facing an eventual separation from Maidan-controlled Kiev would not bring material relief.

Educated by the example of blockaded Donbass (and the likewise blockaded Transnistria) South-East Ukrainians now can have no doubt that no matter how dreadful the material situation in Ukraine – an attempted secession can only result in things getting worse yet.

Nikolai Holmov (‘OdessaBlogger’), a pro-Maidan commentator from Ukraine, explains the calculation leaders and people from heavily anti-Maidan areas like Kharkov, Mariupol and southern Odessa region must consider:

Anton Cisse [leader of ethnic Bulgarians in southern Odessa region] is no political ally of President Poroshenko, and therefore by extension is no political ally of Governor Saakashvili – however he is not stupid either. Indeed he is nobody’s fool.

Mr Cisse is quite capable of looking across the border to Transnistria and seeing what a basket case it is, particularly economically.

As a businessman first and foremost (and a politician secondly) there is simply no gain for him in any form of separatist movement within his stronghold that would move his patch toward an economic disaster area whilst also eschewing it from Odessa, its infrastructure, and its wealth.

Neither would he take kindly to his small fiefdom becoming a second devastated Donbas for the sake of an illusionary Bessarabia.

Thus, no matter what sympathies Mr Cisse may have (or not) for the Kremlin inspired “Bessarabia project” Mr Cisse, and his very loyal ethic Bulgarian constituents, are not about to sanction, encourage, give any meaningful support to, or lead the charge for, an independent/autonomous Bessarabia any time soon.

This, along with heavy policing – formal and informal – has to be a reason why we’ve seen very little evidence of secessionist feeling even in parts of South-East Ukraine where this sentiment was very visible last year before the war begun.

In other words, even if Maidan regime is not be able to inspire real enthusiasm and loyalty in the South-East it has conclusively demonstrated the ability to make lives fairly miserable in the material sense for those who try to break free – even in the event that they succeed.

It’s classic terrorist logic: Donbass is subject to collective reprisals, not in the hope it will surrender or be re-educated, but to be made into a lesson for those who might be tempted to follow in its footsteps.

August 21, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Ukraine Masses Troops on Border With Transnistria

Sputnik – 28.06.2015

Ukraine continues to mass troops and heavy weapons on the border with Transnistria on the pretext that the self-proclaimed republic may launch a military campaign against Ukraine, Russian media reported on Saturday.

“It looks like the Kiev authorities want to picture themselves as encircled by enemies, ready to attack,” a representative of the Transnistrian KGB told Russia’s Zvezda TV channel.

“That we may have a war here tomorrow is hard to say, but we are not ruling out a Ukrainian provocation either… They could use for this purpose one of their many small private armies which refuse to take any orders from Kiev,” the official added.

On June 22, the deputy foreign minister of the Transnistrian Republic, Vitaly Ignatyev, said that Ukraine was moving its troops towards the borders of the self-proclaimed republic, sandwiched between Ukraine and Moldova.

“The situation here is very bad… Economic production is going down, foreign trade is shrinking, the security situation is equally alarming with our Moldovan partners holding military drills with NATO and the Ukrainian pressure mounting every day,” Ignatyev said.

He also mentioned the curbs Kiev has imposed on the transit of Transnistrian nationals and citizens of Russia, almost 200,000 of whom currently live in Transnistria.

“They haven’t been able to travel to Russia via Ukraine for more than a year now. They have to move across Moldova, but Chisinau is creating problems too, along with economic sanctions,” Ignatyev added.

The newly appointed governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region Mikheil Saakashvili earlier announced plans to reinforce Ukraine’s border with Transnistria.

“We have two major tasks — to reinforce the border and curb corruption. Drug and weapons trafficking across this border means nothing good,” Saakashvili told a news conference in Odessa.

He also blamed the Transnistrian authorities for destabilizing the situation in Ukraine.

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Kiev’s Moves Against Transnistria Are Anti-Ukrainian

Not content to merely blockade and shell its citizens in Donbass post-Maidan Ukraine is now also looking to squeeze ethnic Ukrainians in Transnistria

Transnistria president Yevgeny Shevchuk is one of Transnistria’s 160,000 ethnic Ukrainians
By Marko Marjanović | Russia Insider | June 10, 2015

Transnistria (or Pridnestrovie – “land along the Dniester”) is the spiritual predecessor of Novorossiya. It is a small, de facto independent, state taking up a strip of land along the left bank of the mighty Dniester river. The territory in question is internationally recognized as being part of Moldova but has a Slavic majority.

Transnistrian independence is a result of a joint Russian-Ukrainian uprising in the 1990s.

As Soviet Union dissolved the Slavic left-bank of the former Moldavian SSR sought independence, especially since Moldova was being shaken by a movement that sought the unification of this Romanian-speaking country with Romania.

For Slavs on Dniester’s left-bank this would have meant leading the existence of a tiny minority among 25 million Romanian speakers, and furthermore would have meant returning under the rule of their former occupiers – during WWII Romania occupied a chunk of southern Ukraine and was not well-remembered among the Slav populace. As one would expect they were not too thrilled about the prospect.

Indeed, Pridnestrovie’s inclusion into Moldovan SSR was highly artificial in the first place.

In the interwar period the Soviet Union lay claim on the historic region of Bessarabia on the right bank of the Dniester which had been part of Russian Empire but was inhabited by a Romanin majority and was at this time part or Romania. To enhance its claim the Soviets dreamt up a “Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic” out of southern Ukraine along the border with Romania on the Dniester and maintained that this “Moldavia” properly extends to cover the entire Romanian region of Bessarabia.

In 1940 under Stalin the Soviets fulfilled their ambition and after seizing Bessarabia formed a highly dubious “Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic” out of this majority ethnic Romanian territory and the Ukrainian left-bank Dniester. Essentially, exactly in the same way that inclusion of Romanina-majority Bessarabia into the (Slav-majority) Soviet Union was artificial and forced, so was the inclusion of Slav-majority left-bank Dniester into the Moldavian SSSR.

In 1992 when Slavs of Transnistria who are an equal mix of ethnic Ukrainians and Russians rebelled, Ukrainians and Russians recognized the validity of their cause. Volunteers from both Russia and Ukraine flocked to help in their fight.

What is particularly interesting is that volunteers included both Russian and Ukrainian nationalists. Among the Ukrainian volunteers one could find members of the ultra nationalist UNA-UNSO – which is the oldest and the largest of the groups which today forms the Ukrainian Right Sector coalition.

In other words, back in 1992 Ukrainians, including extreme anti-Russian nationalists, were convinced Transnistria deserved to be helped and that it was wrong to demand of ethnic Ukrainians there to submit to rule from the other side of the Dniester (or even from Bucharest in Romania) that they experienced as alien.

(However, the decisive role in the conflict was not played by such volunteers but by the remnants of the Soviet Army in the region which put itself between the warring sides and deterred attempts of the stronger Moldavian/Romanian side to resolve the matter by force. Russian peacekeepers in the region today are a continuation of this force.)

In the mean time much has changed. Today Transnistrians complain (1,2,3) that Ukraine is working with Moldovans to exert pressure against them and get them to submit to Moldova. This pressure consists of a military build up along the Ukrainian-Transnistrian border, a blockade against Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria, making it hard for Transnistrians with Russian passports to travel, and making it difficult for Transnistria to export goods except through Moldovan customs.

Kiev has justified these moves by essentially painting Transnistria as Putin’s military colony. This is highly dubious since Transnistria is very much a geostrategic liability. It is tiny (population of 0.5 million), landlocked, borders only Moldova and Ukraine and covers a thin strip of land – which is therefore highly vulnerable. It may have some value as leverage in relation to Moldova, but it is the case that Moldova itself is a small (population of 3 million), impoverished and landlocked country of little to no strategic significance itself. The reality is that Moscow sees its presence in Transnistria as a moral and possibly political, but not military, asset.

The real reason why Kiev feels the need to denounce Transnistria is because the enclave is in so many ways the antithesis of post-Maidan Ukraine. Culturally and politically it is far closer to Crimea and Donbass than what Ukraine is moving towards. … Full article

June 18, 2015 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment