Russia scraps commitment to peaceful solution to Transnistria conflict

Russia scraps commitment to peaceful solution to Transnistria conflict
A monument in Tiraspol, capital of the Russia-backed separatist republic of Transnistria in Moldova.
By bne IntelliNews February 22, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 21 repealed as “obsolete” a 2012 foreign policy decree that included a paragraph committing Moscow to seeking a peaceful solution to the frozen conflict over Moldova’s breakaway Transnistrian region. 

Putin made the move days after Ukrainian intelligence warned that Moscow is plotting to destabilise Moldova, where it has long backed the separatist regime in Transnistria. There are fears that Russia will step up the war in Ukraine and potentially target Moldova as the first anniversary of the invasion approaches. 

Moldovan President Maia Sandu, Prime Minister Dorin Recean and other Moldova officials have recently talked of scrapping the country’s longstanding military neutrality and hinted that the country might consider Nato membership.

Two influential Russian lawmakers warned in January that Moldova considering Nato membership “may lead to its destruction”. Moscow’s fierce opposition to Ukraine joining Nato was one of the reasons for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

The recently cancelled decree reads: "Russia will continue to participate in the search for solutions to the Transnistrian conflict based on respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral status of the Republic of Moldova, by granting a special status to Transnistria.” 

It was adopted back in 2012, at a time when Russia was seeking closer relations with the EU and the US. Now it has been cancelled in a decision the Kremlin said in a statement was made to protect Russia’s national interests “in connection with the profound changes taking place in international relations”.

Moldova’s foreign ministry said it would “carefully analyse” the impacts of Russia abrogating the decree. 

Moldova will stick to its commitment to a peaceful settlement to the longstanding frozen conflict over the breakaway republic, Moldova’s authorities said, adding that this implies that all Russian troops should leave the country’s territory.

“We will carefully analyse the content of the new concept [of foreign policy] once it is made public. Regarding our country's approach to the Transnistrian settlement — we remain firmly attached to a process of peaceful settlement of the conflict," said the press officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Filip Cojocaru.

“We will also continue to demand the withdrawal of Russian military forces from the territory of the Republic of Moldova.”