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There is growing concern that Transnistria could be dragged into Russia’s war against Ukraine.
What is Transnistria?
Transnistria – officially called the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic – is a narrow strip of land between Moldova and western Ukraine.
It is an unrecognized breakaway state that left Moldova after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990.
The Transnistrian government has de-facto independence, but it is recognized by other countries and the United Nations as part of Moldova.
Does Russia recognize it as an independent country?
Russia does not officially recognize Transnistria as an independent country. However, Transnistria retains its independence largely due the military support provided by the Russian army stationed in the Transnistrian territory.
Transnistria has close ties to Russia. People living there are largely Russian speakers and the government is run by pro-Russian separatists.
Russia also provides Transnistria with free natural gas and has supported older people in the region with pension supplements.
Why is Transnistria important for Russia?
Russia has long sought to keep Moldova, formerly part of the Soviet Union, in its political sphere of influence.
Moldova is located between the European Union, bordering Romania and southwestern Ukraine. Russian troops stationed in Transnistria give Russia a way to intimidate Moldova and limit its Western aspirations.
Moldova applied for European Union membership in March 2022. However, the presence of Russian troops in Transnistria prevents Moldova from fully controlling its own borders. Without border and territorial control, Moldova cannot join the EU. This is one of the conditions for EU membership.
Source: The post is based on the article “Embroiling Transnistria in the Russia-Ukraine War” published in The Hindu on 3rd May 2022.