42. Moldova/Transnistria (1990-present)

Crisis Phase (September 2, 1990-March 1, 1992):  Ethnic-Russian separatists in the Transnistria (Trans-Dniester) region of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova proclaimed an autonomous republic (Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic) on September 2, 1990.  Government security forces clashed with ethnic Russian separatists and ethnic Gagauz on October 1, 1990, resulting in the deaths of three ethnic Gagauz.  Six individuals were killed in clashes between government police and separatists in the Transnistria region on November 2, 1990.  One individual was killed in political violence in Kishinev on November 12, 1990.  Igor Smirnov was elected president of Transnistria in elections held in the region on December 1, 1991.  The Moldovan government appealed to the United Nations Security Council for assistance on December 6, 1991.  Four Moldovan policemen were killed during clashes with separatists in Dubăsari on December 12-13, 1991.  One individual was killed by separatists in the village of Lunga on February 1, 1992.

Map

Conflict Phase (March 2, 1992-July 21, 1992):  Government troops and separatists engaged in military hostilities beginning on March 2, 1992.  Russian troops intervened in support of the ethnic-Russian  separatists in Transnistria, while Romania supported the government. The foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, and Romania jointly appealed for a ceasefire on March 23, 1992.  President Mircea Snegur of Moldova declared a state-of-emergency on March 28, 1992.  Government troops attacked separatists in the town of Bendery on April 1, 1992, resulting in the deaths of 18 individuals. The foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, and Romania mediated the signing of a ceasefire agreement in Kishinev on April 6-7, 1992.  On April 17, 1992, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Moldova established a 160-member military observation commission to monitor the ceasefire. United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali appealed for a ceasefire on June 22, 1992, and sent a UN fact-finding mission to the region on June 27-July 3, 1992.  On July 21, 1992, the parties signed a Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement, known as the Agreement on Principles of Peaceful Settlement of the Military Conflict in the Transnistrian Region of Moldova.  Under Article 2 of the ceasefire agreement, the parties established the Joint Control Commission (JCC) to implement the ceasefire agreement.  The JCC consists of representatives of Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Transnistria, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  Some 1,000 individuals were killed during the conflict. Some 56,000 individuals fled to the Ukraine, and some 51,000 individuals were displaced within Moldova.

Post-Conflict Phase (July 22, 1992-May 8, 1997):  Russia and Moldova agreed to deploy a joint peacekeeping force in the Transnistria region on July 27, 1992.  The Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPF), which consisted of more than 1,500 military personnel from Russia, Moldova, and Transnistria supervised by the JCC, was deployed on July 29, 1992.  The JPF was given responsibility for monitoring the ceasefire agreement, demilitarizing the combatants, and de-mining.  The United Nations (UN) sent a fact-finding mission to the region on August 25-29, 1992. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) established a mission to provide humanitarian assistance to internally-displaced persons in Moldova.  On January 6, 1993, the Moldovan government requested the OSCE to investigate minority rights and inter-ethnic relations in the country. The OSCE Permanent Council sent a five-member fact-finding mission to investigate constitutional and legal issues concerning minorities and ethnic groups in Moldova. On February 4, 1993, the OSCE Permanent Council established the OSCE Mission to Moldova to “facilitate the establishment of a comprehensive political framework for dialogue and negotiations” and to “gather and provide information on the situation, including military situation, in the region.”  At its maximum, the OSCE mission has consisted of thirteen international staff members and 39 local staff members.  Russia began mediation regarding the Transnistria region on March 17, 1994.  The OSCE Mission to Moldova established an office in Tiraspol in Transnistria on February 13, 1995.  President Snegur and Igor Smirnov, leader of the Transnistria region, signed a non-use of force agreement mediated by the Russian government on July 5, 1995.  Igor Smirnov was re-elected as president of the Transnistria region on December 22, 1996, and he was inaugurated for a second term on January 10, 1997. On May 8, 1997, government and Transnistria representatives signed the Memorandum on the Basis for Normalization of Relations between the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria in Moscow.  Under the agreement, the Moldovan government agreed to consult with officials in the Transnistria region prior to making any decisions regarding the region.

Post-Crisis Phase (May 9, 1997-present):  Prime Minister Ion Cebuc of Moldova signed an agreement with Igor Smirnov on November 10, 1997, which provided for economic and social cooperation between Moldova and the Transnistria region. On March 20, 1998, the leaders of Moldova, Transnistria, Russia, and Ukraine signed the Agreement on Confidence Measures and Development of Contacts between Republic of Moldova and Transnistria (“Odessa Agreement”).  As part of the agreement, the Ukrainian government deployed ten military observers as part of the JPF on November 24, 1998.  The leaders of Moldova, Ukraine, and Russia met in Kiev for negotiations regarding the Transnistria region on November 27-28, 1998.  William Hill of the U.S. was appointed as head of the OSCE mission in June 1999.  On December 9, 1999, the OSCE Permanent Council agreed to expand the OSCE Mission to Moldova to observe and verify the withdrawal of Russian military equipment and ammunition from Transnistria in accordance with the Istanbul Summit Declaration.  Between 2000 and March 2004, the OSCE Mission to Moldova observed and verified the withdrawal of 48 trainloads of Russian military equipment and more than 22,000 tons of ammunition from Transnistria.  Legislative elections were held in the Transnistria region on December 10, 2000.  The Unity Party won nine out of 43 seats, and the Renewal Party won seven out of 43 seats in the Supreme Council.  President Igor Smirnov of the Republic Party was re-elected in a presidential election held in the Transnistria region on December 9, 2001. Representatives of the Moldovan government and the Transnistria region resumed negotiations in Brussels, Belgium on February 24-25, 2004.  On March 23, 2005, the European Union (EU) appointed Adriaan Jacobovits de Szeged of the Netherlands as EU Special Representative to Moldova for the Transnistria dispute.  The EU and U.S government joined the JCC as observers in September 2005.  The EU established the Mission of the European Union Border Assistance to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) on November 30, 2005.  EUBAM, which consists of 120 personnel, contributes to the peaceful settlement of the Transnistria dispute by supporting the development of confidence-building measures.  Legislative elections were held in the Transnistria region on December 11, 2005.  The Renewal organization led by Yevgeny Shevchuk won 23 out of 43 seats in the Supreme Council.  The Republic Party won 13 seats in the Supreme Council.  Representatives of the Moldovan government, Transnistria region, Russia, Ukraine, and OSCE, along with observers from the U.S. and EU, held discussions in January and February 2006.  The Russian government provided 200 tons of humanitarian assistance to the Transnistria region in March 2006.  Eight individuals were killed in a bombing in Tiraspol on July 6, 2006.  Some 97 percent of the voters of the Transnistria region approved independence from Moldova in a referendum held on September 17, 2006.  President Smirnov of the Republic Party was re-elected with 82.4 percent of the vote in a presidential election held in the Transnistria region on December 10, 2006.  The British Helsinki Human Rights Group (BHHRG) sent two observers to monitor the presidential election.  On June 17, 2007, President Vladimir Voronin of Moldova called for the replacement of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPF) with a civilian observation mission under an international mandate.  On November 18, 2008, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly approved a resolution calling on the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops from the Transnistria region.  Legislative elections were held in the Transnistria region on December 12, 2010.  The Renewal Party led by Anatoliy Kaminski won 25 out of 43 seats on the Supreme Council of the Transnistria region.  Representatives of the Moldovan government, Transnistria region, Russia, Ukraine, and OSCE, along with observers from the U.S. and EU, held discussions in Vienna, Austria on February 14-15, 2011.  Yevgeny Shevchuk, running as an independent, was elected president of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic with more than 75 percent of the vote in the second round of presidential elections held on December 25, 2011.  Yevgeny Shevchuk was inaugurated as president of the Transnistria region on December 30, 2011.  Representatives of the Moldovan government, Transnistria region, Russia, Ukraine, and OSCE, along with observers from the U.S. and EU, held discussions in Vienna, Austria on July 12-13, 2012.  Representatives of the Moldovan government, Transnistria region, Russia, Ukraine, and OSCE, along with observers from the U.S. and EU, held discussions in Vienna, Austria on February 27-28, 2014.  On March 6, 2014, the U.S. mission to the OSCE in Vienna, Austria released a statement indicating that the U.S. “strongly supports efforts to promote a peaceful settlement of the Transnistria conflict—one that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova and provides a special status for Transnistria.”  On March 18, 2014, the chairman of the Supreme Council appealed to the Russian State Duma to consider the annexation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic.  On June 6, 2014, the U.S. government pledged an additional $8 million in assistance to the Moldovan government (on top of the $2.7 million pledged in March 2014).  Russian troops conducted a military exercise in the Transnistria region on April 9, 2015.  On September 8, 2015, the Moldovan government suspended military relations with the Russian Federation after a Russian military attaché attended at a military parade in Tiraspol that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the proclamation of the autonomous republic, Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic.  Legislative elections were held in the Transnistria region on November 29, 2015, and the Renewal Party won 33 out of 43 seats in the Supreme Council.  Representatives of the Moldovan government, Transnistria region, Russia, Ukraine, and OSCE, along with observers from the U.S. and EU, held discussions in Berlin, Germany on June 2-3, 2016.  Colonel Sergey Rybakov of Russia was appointed to head the Joint Peacekeeping Forces (JPF) in Transnistria on July 8, 2016.  On September 8, 2016, President Yevgeny Shevchuk signed a decree calling for the Transnistria region to join the Russian Federation.  Vadim Krasnoselsky of the Renewal Party was elected president of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic with 62 percent of the vote on December 11, 2016.  On May 2, 2017, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova ruled that the “stationing of any military troops or bases on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, managed and controlled by foreign states, is unconstitutional.”  On July 21, 2017, a majority in the Moldovan parliament voted to approve a statement calling for the removal of Russian troops, weapons, and military equipment from the Transnistria region.  Representatives of the Moldovan government, Transnistria region, Russia, Ukraine, and OSCE, along with observers from the U.S. and EU, held discussions in Vienna, Austria on November 27, 2017.  At the end of the meeting, the parties signed the Protocol of the Official Meeting of the Permanent Conference for Political Questions in the Framework of the Negotiating Process on the Transnistria Settlement.  In January 2018, Franco Frattini of Italy was nominated to serve as the OSCE Special Representative for the Transnistria settlement process.  On February 17, 2018, Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip called on the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops and armaments from the Transnistria region.  On June 22, 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the Republic of Moldova.  On July 30, 2018, President Igor Dodon of the Republic of Moldova expressed his support for the continued deployment of Russian peacekeeping troops in the Transnistria region.  On November 30, 2020, President-elect Maia Sandu of Moldova called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the Transnistria region.

[Sources: Agence France Presse (AFP), November 28, 2017; Allock et al., 1992, 44-48; Associated Press, September 8, 2016, July 21, 2017; Banks and Muller, 1998, 612-617; Beigbeder, 1994, 263; Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 253-254; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), March 23, 2002, February 24, 2004, September 2, 2005, July 6, 2006, September 17, 2006, September 18, 2006, December 10, 2006, December 11, 2006, July 21, 2007, April 11, 2008, September 14, 2008, March 18, 2014, November 30, 2020; Business Insider, April 10, 2015; European Union (EU) press release, March 23, 2005; Keesing’s Record of World Events, March 1992, April 1992, May 1992, June 1992, July 1992, January 1997, November 1997; New York Times (NYT), December 10, 2001; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), March 21, 1994, February 4, 2002, December 10, 2006, September 22, 2011, May 30, 2015, November 28, 2017, February 18, 2018, March 13, 2018; Reuters, November 10, 1998, March 18, 2009, June 7, 2014; Sputnik News, September 8, 2015, February 22, 2017; TASS: Russian News Agency, March 28, 2014, July 8, 2016, February 17, 2018, November 21, 2018, December 3, 2020; Tiraspol Times & Weekly Review, December 11, 2006; United Nations Chronicle, September 1992, December 1992; United States Mission to the OSCE statement, March 6, 2014; Washington Post, March 24, 2014.]

 

Bibliography

Bejan, Ana-Maria. 2017. “The Status of the Peacekeeping Operations in the Transnistrian Conflict,” Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice, vol. 9(2), pp. 236-244.