West Incites Tensions on Dniester Shores

West Incites Tensions on Dniester Shores

Bucharest and Chisinau have announced their intention to form a joint military unit. Defence Minister Viorel Cibotaru visited Romania on May 19-20 to meet his counterpart Mircea Duşa. Summing up the results of the talks, Viorel Cibotaru said «Moldova supports the expansion of military cooperation with Romania and regards this country as a strategic partner». The Minister said the both sides took a decision to form a joint battalion. The statement of Moldova’s Defense Ministry states, «The both sides plan to use the vast experienced gained by Romania military during multinational peacekeeping missions and combined exercises». Ukrainian and Polish military are also expected to join the formation. 

So, that’s what we have - a joint (allegedly peacekeeping) battalion to include the military of Romania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine will be formed to conduct operations on the shores of the Dniester River. The peacekeeping mission has been carried out in the region by Russian peacekeeping forces for more than 20 years. The Ukrainian Parliament on May 21 voted to unilaterally scrap the military cooperation agreements with Russia. In particular, it backed Ukraine’s withdrawal from the accords that regulate military transportation between Ukraine and Russia.

Romania's government plans to increase its defense budget over possible tensions on its eastern borders with Ukraine. Prime Minister Victor Ponta announced plans for defense expenditure, which are to grow from 1.36% of GDP (2014) to reach 1, 7% in 2015 and 2% by 2017. Supported by the United States and the European Union Romania is trying to form an anti-Russia alliance to include Poland, a NATO member, Moldova and Ukraine. 

In 2009 Poland and Romania signed the Strategic Partnership agreement which envisioned rendering support to Ukraine and Moldova in their efforts aimed at European integration.

Poland’s and Romania’s top diplomats Grzegorz Schetyna and Bogdan Aurescu met in Warsaw on April 29. The both officials emphasized they had a common view on the conflict in Ukraine. Mr. Schetyna noted that the parties discussed new prospects for military cooperation with plans to involve Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and some Balkans states into the process. 

Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine announced their intention to form a joint brigade last September. Troops assigned to the formation will be housed at its headquarters in Lublin, Poland. The Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian unit will consist of 4500 troops (3500 thousand men from Poland, 600 from Ukraine and 400 from Lithuania). Plans call for the force to be fully operational by 2017 with preliminary joint drills scheduled for later this year. An anti-Russian military alliance is being formed to stretch from the Black Sea to the Baltics. 

The Russian peacekeeping troops in Transnistria are an obstacle to hinder the implementation of the plans. The territory is a kind of enclave inside the south-eastern part of North Atlantic Alliance’s zone of responsibility. The independent Transnistria is like a bone in the throat of Romanian unionists. The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic Transnistria has three official languages: Russian, Moldovan (in the Cyrillic alphabet) and Ukrainian. Moldova switched to the Latin script in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the republic in 1989-1993. There are differences in the vision of the contemporary situation and the past. Chisinau believes that Marshal Antonescu, a Hitler’s ally, was not a military criminal, but a national hero struggling for reunification of Moldova with Romania. Streets in the cities are called after him. 

The supporters of re-unification (the idea espoused by Antonescu which envisions the accession of Moldova) in the Romanian parliament have formed a 41 strong group called the Friends of the Union. It includes 41 MPs. Meanwhile only between 7.5 to 15 percent of Moldovans favor unity with Romania - a figure which has remained the same for the past decade. For comparison, a union is supported by 76 percent of Romanians, according to an IRES poll in 2013 - and no major candidate in Romania’s presidential elections last year risked ruling it out. But historical precedents become tricky when it comes to which pieces of land could join Romania. The Friends of the Union cherish the plans to also accede Bessarabia – the region which includes areas north and south of today’s Moldova, which are now in Ukraine. They don’t say it out loud for the time being not to scare Ukrainians. The issue of returning Bessarabia is gradually coming to the fore. Meanwhile Romania keeps on assuring Kiev that it will join in fighting Russia and attack the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The plan to push Russian peacekeepers out from Transnistria is being implemented. An information war has been unleashed against Tiraspol. The government of Transnistria is accused of violating democratic freedoms and pursuing independent non-government organizations on the territory of the republic. Some of the NGOs operate in Moldova getting funds from Romania. They maintain close ties with Romanian special services. Western media outlets have a list of issues to make come to the fore: the persecution of non-government organizations in Transnistria, the presence of Russian peacekeepers there, the economic failure of Transnistria and the «influence of the Kremlin». The Chisinau regime is painted as a force able to rectify the situation and restore democracy. Dozens of NGOs have already approached Chisinau asking to step in and use diplomatic pressure. 

In pursuit of its geopolitical aspirations the West uses to its advantage the conflict still smothering in Ukraine. The cease-fire agreement is far from bringing enduring peace. The attempts are undertaken to increased pressure on Moscow and incite tensions in Transnistria. The decision to form a Moldova-Romania «peacekeeping» battalion is another step on the way to reach the goal.