Svetlana Gamova

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, September 13, 2016, p. 6

The Foreign Ministry of Moldova expressed embarrassment with regard to behavior of the operational group of Russian forces in Trans-Dniester region (OGRV) and reminded that “it is on the territory of Moldova illegally.”


The Foreign Ministry of Moldova expressed embarrassment with regard to behavior of the operational group of Russian forces in Trans-Dniester region (OGRV) and reminded that “it is on the territory of Moldova illegally.” Deputy Foreign Minister Lilian Darii explains that Chisinau is concerned not only about the fact that Russian servicemen have started conducting exercises together with Trans-Dniester servicemen but also about frequency of thee events – “they take place one by one.” Representatives of Trans-Dniester Republic say that joint Russian-Trans-Dniester exercises are dictated by the difficult political and economic situation in the region, as well as rapprochement of Moldova with NATO.

Defense Minister of Trans-Dniester Republic Ruslan Paulesko reported that there were exercises but they ended and no joint exercises were conducted with OGRV now.

The latest exercises took recently in OGRV. In the course of the exercises about 60 grenade launcher operators worked out actions for hidden movement, occupation, equipment and disguising and firing emplacement and killing of armored vehicles and manpower of a conventional enemy in daytime and at night. In the course of exercises they spent about 300 inert and about 150 combat grenades. According to the command, grenade launcher operators demonstrated “a high accuracy of killing of targets imitating manpower and lightly armored vehicles of a conventional enemy.”

The Foreign Ministry of Moldova released a statement in which it characterized behavior of Russian forces in Trans-Dniester Republic as a “challenge to a sovereign state and gross infringement on international law norms.”

The statement said, “Despite the persistent calls of Moldovan authorities, OGRV continues various kinds of activity of military nature that generates new tension in Moldovan-Russian relations. Such behavior of Russian forces stationed on the territory of Moldova without agreement of Moldovan authorities cannot be characterized otherwise as challenge to a sovereign state and gross breaching of the norm of the international law.” The Foreign Ministry emphasizes, “It is difficult to imagine that someone may think that rattling of arms may contribute to strengthening of confidence between he two coasts of the Dniester River and creation of atmosphere favorable for conduction of negotiations in “5+2″ format (Moldova and Trans-Dniester Republic – parties, Russia, Ukraine, OSCE – intermediaries, EU and US – observers.” Moldovan authorities express a hope that “Moscow will finally react to the frequent called voiced by Chisinau with regard to growing military activeness of OGRV adequately.”

The statement of the Foreign Ministry stresses, “In these conditions a full and unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces from the territory of Moldova in accordance with resolutions of the Istanbul summit of the OSCE of 1999 and beginning of proper negotiations on transformation of the current peacekeeping operation into a civil mission with an international mandate is a pressing need.”

It was necessary to say that in the last few months units of OGRV participated in joint exercises with units of the armed forces and other security agencies of Trans-Dniester Republic several times. Every time official Chisinau criticized such actions. Chisinau reacted to the military parade on the Victory Day organized by Trans-Dniester and Russian servicemen together in a special way. This happened for the first time in 25 years of life in this unrecognized republic independent from Moldova. Interestingly, Moldovan authorities invited servicemen of OGRV to participate in the military parade of May 9 in Chisinau but Russian servicemen did not accept the invitation.

Deputy Foreign Minister Lilian Darii explains the situation, “We are concerned about the fact that Russian servicemen stationed in Trans-Dniester Republic have started organizing exercises with Trans-Dniester servicemen regularly. The frequency of these events also causes questions.” He remarks that Chisinau would like to receive the relevant explanations from Moscow.

Military exercises in Trans-Dniester Republic are organized regularly really by peacekeepers, servicemen of OGRV and Trans-Dniester army. Joint anti-terrorist exercises of OGRV and security agencies of unrecognized Trans-Dniester Republic took place recently. They were crowned by crossing of the Dniester River and “liquidation of terrorists who captured water treatment facilities” on the right coat.

It was reported with reference to local mass media that according to the script of the exercises “terrorists” took the water treatment installations of Tiraspol and planned to blow them up for the purpose of creation of a threat for ecological situation. To prevent a catastrophe, more than 100 Russian and Trans-Dniester servicemen crossed the Dniester River on armored vehicles. Trans-Dniester paratroopers also landed on the ground, hit the “extremists” from the rear and blocked and liquidated them by joint efforts. Prime Minister of Trans-Dniester Republic Pavel Prokudin who watched the exercises praised actions of the servicemen. He said, “This is one of the most difficult tasks in military profession – crossing of water obstacles and we live on the river and it is impossible not to take such options into account and it is very good that such exercises take place. They should become regularly because some guys go to the reserve, new ones are drafted and combat readiness should be on a high level permanently.”

Along with this, the Defense Ministry of Moldova announced that organization of such exercises “contradicts the laws of Moldova.”

Meanwhile, people in Tiraspol believe that military exercises are necessary bearing in mind the tense situation in the region. Former Foreign Minister of Trans-Dniester Republic Vladimir Yastrebchak said that joint exercises were caused by the need to maintain combat readiness of the Trans-Dniester armed forces in the tense situation that was created around the unrecognized republic. Yastrebchak explained, “Our colleagues in Chisinau need to think about their activeness with regard to rapprochement with NATO. Trans-Dniester Republic takes this in not way other than as a military threat.” He reminded that in spring of this year President of Moldova Nicolae Timofti and commander of the united NATO forces in Europe Philip Breedlove discussed a possibility of opening of a bureau for relations of NATO in Chisinau. For example, the President of Moldova advocated more active cooperation among Moldova, US and NATO despite that according to the constitution Moldova was a neutral country.

Deputy Foreign Minister Darii remarks that Chisinau takes working out of joint operations by the military of Russia and Trans-Dniester Republic also as a threat, especially against the background of the decree of leader of Trans-Dniester Republic Yevgeny Shevchuk about implementation of results of the referendum of 2006. At the referendum 97% of residents of the unrecognized republic voted for independence of the region from Moldova and its entrance into Russia in the future.

President of Trans-Dniester Republic Shevchuk really signed such decree and ordered creation of the governmental commission for transition of the region to Russian laws. The supreme council of Trans-Dniester Republic spoke against such an abrupt turn. Deputy chair of the parliament of Trans-Dniester Republic Galina Antyufeeva called the decree ill considered and unrealistic. She said, “It is impossible to invalidate all local laws at once because this actually means liquidation of statehood of Trans-Dniester Republic, as well as paralysis of all industries of our economy. The president’s decree also lets Russia that has always supported and helped us down.”

In turn, the reintegration bureau of the government of Moldova called the decree of Shevchuk invalid and outrageous. The statement said, “It was issued by a non-constitutional body on the basis of a referendum conducted illegally on a part of the territory of Moldova.” According to Moldovan officials, the initiative of the President of Trans-Dniester Republic undermines the efforts for regulation of the conflict. It is necessary to say that negotiations between Chisinau and Tiraspol have been stalled a long time ago. The negotiation format “5+2” actually has not been working for two years. Serbia being the chair in OSCE promised to launch it earlier. Germany tries to do this now. In any case, good intentions remain only good intensions and Chisinau and Tiraspol keep moving further from each other.