I have 5 interrelated posts from over the weekend, all with a Transnistrian theme. Actually, they are all pretty much the same story, just quotes from a press conference with Transnistrian President Vadim Krasnoselsky. And all the quotes were compiled by the same reporter, Elena Ostryakova, in Moscow. But, in typical Politnavigator fashion, they break these quotes down into separate bite-sized chunks, based on the topic, occasionally twisting the headline a bit to get more clicks.
For those not in the know, Transnistria (Russian Приднестровье – “Pri-Dniestr-ovie”, which means roughly “the area near the Dniestr River”) is a slice of land squeezed in between Moldova and Ukraine, and bordering (on the East) the Dniestr River, hence the name.
The name of the Dniestr River itself hails from ancient Sarmatian (a Persian language) spoken by Scythians-Alanians (whose modern descendants include Ossetians). The Sarmatian word for the river was dānu nazdya “the close river.” Their word for the Dniepr River, farther west, means “the far river”. Which gives some indication of the relative geography of Alanian migrations.
The official name for Приднестровье is the PMR (Pridniestrovian Moldavian Republic). The classic Latin name for this area “Transnistria” sound cooler, so I like to use it in my posts. Historically, in the days of the Russian Empire, this whole region, including Moldova, was known as Bessarabia. Transnistria is one of the “unrecognized” entities (like Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and more recently Donetsk/Luhansk) that came about as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the subsequent rebellions against unpopular and hostile ethnic governments supported by the West. Unlike the others, however, Transnistria is not technically considered to be Separatist. Moldova, with its capital in Kishinev, claims this slice of land and considers it to be a “breakaway”, yet still recognizes that the slice has a “special legal status”. Ethnically, the slice is a patchwork of Moldovans, Ukrainians and Russians. The capital city is Tiraspol, and the government is the usual European combo of President (=Vadim Krasnoselsky) and Prime Minster (=Alexander Martynov).
Over the weekend President Krasnoselsky held a press conference with Ukrainian reporters in Tiraspol; and what follows are quotes and discussions of the topics therein.
Dodon’s Arrival Didn’t Change Kishinev’s Negative Position About the PMR
Krasnoselsky was asked about the visit of Moldovan President Igor Dodon. Technically Krasnoselsky and Dodon are sort of like enemies. “Moldova won’t compromise,” Krasnoselsky complained to the journalists. “It doesn’t seek contact. Name at least one step that they took on their side.” Krasnoselsky went on to cite, that of 200 agreements signed between the two entities (Moldova and Transnistria), the former has not complied with a single one of them.
Nonetheless, Krasnoselsky and Dodon met a couple of times. “I suggested to him that we proceed to the resolution of concrete issues of an economic, humanitarian, and cultural nature; on these issues depend the lives of ordinary people living on both banks of the Dniestr River. Transnistria has proved, both in words and deeds, its readiness for dialogue. But it takes two to tango. Unfortunately, we have not seen any reciprocal steps from Moldavia in the last 8 months We have only seen negative things coming out of them.”
The Leader of Transnistria Talked About His Connections With Poroshenko, and Encouraged the Ukrainian Media
Misleading headline! Ukrainian reporters asked Krasnoselsky if it was true that he had studied in the same school with Ukrainian President Poroshenko. “Your President graduated from School #2 in Bender,” Krasnoselsky replied, “and I from School #3. There is a difference in our ages, therefore we never bumped into each other. But I know many of his friends and acquaintances.”
The President of Transnistria calls himself an “Eastern Slav”, his father is Ukrainian and his mother is Russian. Besides his Transnistrian passport, he also carries a Russian passport. “I always considered myself to be a Russian [citizen],” Krasnoselsky said, “and I received this passport back in the 1990’s.” He reminded people that on the territory of the PMR reside 150,000 ethnic Ukrainians, 80,000 of whom carry Ukrainian passports. “We are very interested in the strengthening of the Ukrainian influence. “We have a Ukrainian component. The culture the history, it’s all very interesting. We are prepared to collaborate [with Ukraine] on humanitarian, cultural, economic issues. Let us get away from politics, and start to resolve issues which touch on the lives of ordinary people,” Kranoselsky encouraged the Ukrainian reporters.
Krasnoselsky Predicts That The PMR Will Be Recognized
The situation regarding international recognition of Transnistia is distinctly different from the situation with the Donbass Republics and with Crimea, according to Vadim Krasnoselsky. “The PMR appeared [on the international stage] at the time of that great geopolitical catastrophe called the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Transnistria came about with the agreement of all geopolitical parties involved [in this process]. In other words, there was no conflict. Currently we are witnessing the collision of geopolitical interests of the super-powers on the territory of the Ukraine.”
He went on to comment, that according to Ukrainian law, Donetsk/Luhansk and Crimea remain territories of that country (=Ukraine). “But Moldova, on the other hand, jurisdictionally does not claim us. What I have in mind is two declarations of the Moldovan Parliament from June of 1990. These declarations concern the secession [of Moldova] from the USSR; a declaration of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty null and void; from which follows the illegality of the creation of the Moldova Soviet Socialist Republic. Which was created, in sooth, precisely on the basis of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty by gluing Moldavia to the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.” Based on this, Krasnoselsky asserted, from the point of view of international law, Transnistria has every right to be recognized as its own state.
“I am convinced that any objective international court will confirm our right to independence. I am convinced that we will be recognized. And we will achieve this (recognition) through the process of negotiations. The process will be, I hope, bloodless,” Krasnoselski concluded.
The President Of Transnistria: There Is Still A Danger of Military Conflict With Moldova
The international peacekeeping mission must remain on the territory of Transnistria as long as the conflict with Moldova continues, according to Krasnoselsky, in his interview with Ukrainian reporters. “Not long ago the Constitutional Court of Moldova passed a resolution declaring the Russian peacekeeping presence to be illegal. And declared themselves ready to push them [the Russian peacekeepers] out through military action. How they intend to do that, I don’t know. All of this brings a risk into our relationships. Until the conflict is completely resolved, the peacekeeping mission must continue to exist.”
Krasnoselsky also complained about the fact that any arrival of a Russian General into Transnistria “is accompanied by a scandal at the airport, which is heard around the world.”
The President of Transnistria Does Not Recognize Crimea As Russian Per Se
Again, a misleading headline for click-bait! When asked at the press conference by a Ukrainian (female) reporter, “Who does Crimea belong to?” Krasnoselsky, like a true politician, shied away from a straightforward answer. “I was expecting that question. It’s a good question. Who does Crimea belong to? That question is the result. And the cause of this — is the clash of interests of two (major) powers. As a result, according to the Ukrainian constitution, Crimea unquestionably belongs to the Ukraine. But according to the Russian constitution, Crimea belongs to Russia.”