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Aleksey Kopytko: If the Moldovan government decides to deal with Transnistria, Ukraine will effectively participate

23 Feb, 2024
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Aleksey Kopytko: If the Moldovan government decides to deal with Transnistria, Ukraine will effectively participate

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By Aleksey Kopytko

"According to forecasts by some experts and journalists, the congress may reaffirm the decision of 2006, requesting inclusion of "PMR" into the RF, and once again appeal with a similar request to the Russian Tsar. Putin, in turn, might just agree.

However, as of now, military intelligence denies that anything similar will be voiced. According to intelligence data, the focus will be on economic issues and attempts to exacerbate tensions. This is in order to compel Moldova to revoke its autumn decision, which reinstated tariffs on Transnistrian goods.

Also, Moldova experts point out that it's currently not advantageous for Russia to annex Transnistria. There's no common border and no real opportunity to significantly influence the economic situation. Plus, it's unclear how the pro-Russian electorate will react on the eve of the Moldovan presidential elections.

All of this makes sense and seems logical.

But.

Firstly, in 2014, during the illegal annexation of Crimea, there weren't any significant reasons, from an external perspective, considering the numerous risks involved. However, there was internal logic within Russia – a sharp rise in the leader's popularity and the consolidation of power. This factor might be on the table again on the eve of extending Putin's rule for life.

Secondly, the Kremlin has repeatedly shown its readiness to apply pressure as long as it achieves its objectives. The capture of Transnistria seems illogical when viewed linearly – in terms of winning fair democratic elections in Moldova. But who said that this is a priority for Moscow?

Moscow's priority might be chaos in Moldova, on the border with NATO. This poses problems for Romania, and it affects Ukrainian logistics. By the way, Romania also has elections in 2024. And Lukoil's positions there are still strong.

Maya Sandu will have to deal with the chaos. And her pro-Russian opponents might exploit it. They could say, "It's her fault. But we'll sort everything out."

What should be done about this? At the very least, Brussels and Washington should be made aware that this could be the third protracted conflict where negotiations and playing by the rules under Western mediation have ended in failure.

Russia has scrapped its "Minsk process". By making France and Germany look foolish (let's not forget that these countries denied the possibility of a Russian invasion).

After 30 years of fruitless dragging in their "Minsk process," Azerbaijan forcefully resolved the Karabakh issue, restoring territorial integrity. Because neither UN resolutions nor other political-diplomatic maneuvers were helpful.

If Russia overturns the situation with Transnistria, it will be another nail in the coffin of diplomacy as a means to truly resolve anything.

Playing for higher stakes is the Kremlin's favorite pastime. If the West doesn't find the right words for Moscow and hesitates, Western mediation worldwide will be perceived as a traveling circus.

Europe is dealing with farmers and migrants. Plus Israel, plus the buzzing of Iran. Plus the unruly kid in North Korea. Plus elections everywhere. In Moscow, they might think that the West simply doesn't have enough hands.

Naturally, there's nothing good for Ukraine in the Transnistrian maneuvers. But if the Moldovan government shows firmness and decides to deal with this sore spot, Ukraine will effectively participate."

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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