Sandu against Russian troops in Transnistria

The newly elected President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, has announced that she wants the Russian peacekeeping forces in the secessionist region of Transnistria to be replaced by a civilian OSCE observer mission. Russian units have been stationed there since the collapse of the Soviet Union, guarding border crossings and a huge ammunition depot. The foreign ministry in Moscow has not reacted well to the plan. Journalists examine the interests at stake.

Open/close all quotes
Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Military presence expensive and pointless

Radio Kommersant FM criticises Moscow's stance:

“The Kremlin reacted coldly because its military presence guarantees that Transnistria will remain under its influence. Although it's debatable that Russia officially has any influence there - other than the fact that it covers the costs of maintaining its troops. The second problem is no less explosive: it's about gas. Transnistria gets Russian gas but pays nothing for it, saying that the government in Chișinău should do that. As a result, it has accumulated more than six billion dollars in debt. So the Transnistrians are selective in their independence: 'When it comes to paying, we're part of Moldova,' they say. 'When it's about getting money, we're a proud republic.'”

NV (UA) /

Moscow won't budge of its own accord

The new president is right to make this demand, says journalist Pavlo Kasarin on website

“It would be naive to expect concessions from Moscow. After all, the Russian soldiers are not on the territory of the former Soviet republics to ensure peace. ... The Russian soldiers are stationed at border crossings between Moldova and Transnistria, and at the same time they protect military ammunition depots in the village of Cobasna on the border with Ukraine. These contain more than 20,000 tonnes of ammunition, a legacy from a time when the 14th army of the USSR was deployed in Transnistria. ... But Moscow is in no hurry to solve this problem. As long as ammunition is stored in Transnistria, the Kremlin has another argument for why Russian soldiers should remain in the region.”

Revista 22 (RO) /

A test for the new president

Journalist Armand Gosu explains in Revista 22 why the Kremlin has reacted so negatively to the demand:

“Maia Sandu hasn't really said anything new. She just said it more clearly than others. And she is also taken seriously by the world's governments because she is much more credible than the country's previous leaders. But where has the campaign of the Russian dignitaries against Maia Sandu come from? ... Moscow is neither used to working with political leaders who raise sensitive issues in public, nor does it know how to do so. With this wave of reactions the Kremlin is trying to test and intimidate the future president - in preparation for the negotiations over the status of the separatist region.”