Moldova (Transnistria)


Conflict Summary

The disputed status of the so-called Dniestr Republic/Transnistria has fuelled ethno-nationalist movements against control by the Moldovan government. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Moldova sought a closer association with Romania, with which it shares considerable historical and cultural ties. However, the Slav-dominated territory of Transnistria was quick to align itself with Russia. The volatile area was highly militarised and contained substantial criminal elements. Fighting broke out between pro-independence and Moldovan forces in 1992 but quickly subsided. Since then, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has overseen the gradual withdrawal of Russian military equipment and soldiers from Transnistria, a process which frequently stalls. Negotiations between Moldova and the republic were mediated by the so-called ‘5 + 2 Talks’ (Moldova, Transnistria, Ukraine, the OSCE, and Russia with the US and the EU as observers) but halted in 2011 and have not been resumed since. The disputed territory is allegedly involved in illegal arms trafficking and other illicit activities. Tacit Russian support for the self-proclaimed Transnistrian leadership complicates the situation. In addition, the late 2012 discussion of placing a NATO base near the Transnistrian border could further exacerbate cooperation if Moldova moves more seriously with its plans to partner with NATO.