The lull after the June visit of the Vice Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, Viktor Osipov, to Moscow, during which the Moldovan diplomat met with the Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, turned out to be short-lived. 25 June Rogozin offered Osipov to conclude a deal, the essence of which can be described by the formula: the market for Moldovan goods in exchange for a change in Moldova’s position on peacekeepers. Chisinau agreed at first, but soon continued to stubbornly bend his line.
Moscow bargaining and the OSCE awakening
The possibility of concluding a "market for peacemakers" deal was told to the press by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. “The other day I met with the acting Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Moldova, Viktor Osipov. We said directly that the nature of our economic and trade relations with Moldova will largely depend on a change in their attitude towards Russian peacekeepers, rotation of our military group, which is located in Transnistria, ”said Rogozin, speaking in the State Duma. Rogozin added that Moscow is holding consultations with Chisinau and Tiraspol, hoping to “unlock a number of issues” by the fall.
Then from Transnistria there was a declaration of readiness "to build constructive relations with both Chisinau and Kiev in order to unlock the economy."
On July 8, the OSCE Special Representative Radoyko Bogoevich arrived in Tiraspol after visiting Brussels, Moscow, Kiev and Chisinau, who was actively involved in the process of revitalizing the 5 + 2 negotiation format. Following the conversation with the head of Transnistria, Yevgeny Shevchuk, the OSCE Special Representative declared his intention “to promote by all possible means” the establishment of a direct dialogue between Moldova and Transnistrian Moldavian Republic and work in the framework of industry groups. Separately, Bogoevich said that he received support in Moscow and Kiev.
On the same day, Yevgeny Shevchuk received the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Moldova, Farida Mukhametshin. The meeting discussed the socio-economic problems caused by the blockade of Transnistria, and measures to support the Transdnistrian Moldavian Republic, including the activities of the Russian humanitarian project ANO Eurasian Integration. And on July 9, Yevgeny Shevchuk visited Moscow and met Dmitry Rogozin there, who called on the head of the republic and his colleagues from Kiev and Chisinau to abandon bellicose rhetoric and unfriendly unilateral actions.
On the whole, Moscow sent all diplomatic forces to attempt to seat Chisinau at the same table with Tiraspol. However, the Moldovan elitist do not show much zeal in the negotiation business, preferring to play and simulate dialogue.
Imitation of negotiations
7 July was a meeting of the Joint Control Commission, during which the following issues were discussed:
1. Freedom of movement in the security zone. And then the parties began to disagree. Chisinau understands freedom of movement as the elimination of Transnistrian roadblocks in the security zone; Tiraspol, naturally, is categorically against it, reasonably noticing that this will lead to a surge in criminal activity and smuggling weapons and drugs.
2. Repair of security posts. Chisinau made complaints about the reform of the Transnistrian law enforcement posts in the security zone in 2014. Moldova did not like the repair of security posts.
The meeting ended in vain: Moldova once again blocked the approval of the plan for the main activities of the joint peacekeeping forces on 2015. This plan includes training of peacekeepers, exercises, combat readiness, activities of rapid response teams and military observers.
On the whole, Moldova’s position on the Transnistrian settlement was voiced in an interview with the Kommersant newspaper by Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Osipov:
1. Chisinau has no resources for the war with Transnistria.
2. The negotiation process was frustrated because of Tiraspol, and the “5 + 2” platform itself was “unsuccessful”.
3. The purpose of the “5 + 2” negotiation process is the reintegration of Moldova and the provision of PMR with broad autonomy, and Transnistria’s talk about the need for a “civilized divorce” contradicts the essence of the “5 + 2” format.
4. The order of 200 initiated criminal cases against Transnistrian officials is not an obstacle to the negotiation process, but a reaction within the law to violations of the Moldovan legislation by Transnistrians. Close criminal cases is impossible, their defendants can only be amnestied, but this is a matter of separate negotiations.
5. According to the Russian peacekeepers, it is necessary to develop a “more precise rotation format”.
6. Moldova developed “measures to promote the export of Transnistrian goods to European markets” and sent a list of these measures for approval to the European Commission.
In Tiraspol, they got acquainted with the position of Moldova. The Foreign Ministry did not consider it appropriate to comment on a whole series of frankly unfriendly and untruthful theses, the main of which is the focus of the 5 + 2 format on the reintegration of Moldova.
Thus, the position of Chisinau on Transnistria is one-on-one similar to Kiev’s approach to reading the text of the Minsk Agreements with their further free interpretations and deviations from the text.
In the meantime, Ukraine, with which Moscow is not negotiating on Transnistria, continues to escalate hysteria around the Transdnistrian Moldavian Republic.
The position of Kiev: strengthen the border and pass under the control of Chisinau
On July 8, at a meeting in Odessa with President Petro Poroshenko, the head of the State Frontier Service of Ukraine, Viktor Nazarenko, said he considered it necessary to strengthen the protection of the Transnistrian segment of the border and create engineering structures on it, similar to those that the Ukrainian authorities are building on the border with Russia. By the overlap of the Transnistrian segment of the Ukrainian border, Kiev brought in more than 500 National Guard soldiers and created a separate commandant for rapid response, and in a year 53 dug up km of ditches on the border. “These actions can be evaluated differently, but the ditch is an obstacle to smuggling,” said Nazarenko.
In addition, Kiev plans to allow Moldovan border guards and customs officers at their checkpoints on the border with Transnistria, who will control the movement of goods and citizens of Transnistria across the Ukrainian border.
The Ukrainian “Right Sector” has already begun to oversee the border security, under the brand of which the local criminals are hiding. And in the network spread false news about the shelling of the territory of Transnistria by the Ukrainian troops and once again hysteria is inflamed around the approved annual plan for the military conscription in Transnistria, which is given almost as a general mobilization.
Thus, the positions of the parties around the Transnistrian problem are as follows:
1. Moldova, as an extremely militarily weak entity, plays the role of a “good policeman” whose task is to convince or coerce with soft means, such as the arrests of high-ranking Transnistrian officials in resorts, Tiraspol to break relations with Russia and reorient the republic’s export flows to EU countries. In part, it was possible to change the export geography in 2006, when Ukraine, by the decision of the Foreign Minister Poroshenko, joined the blockade of the republic. Now the task is to break relations with Russia.
2. The role of the “evil policeman” is prepared for Kiev, which, if it is a wiggle from Washington, will conduct a military campaign against Tiraspol. In the meantime, Kiev is slowly but surely implementing a policy of economic suffocation of Transnistria, pushing local businesses to further reorienting to European markets.
3. Until recently, Russia will try to exchange peacekeepers and a separate grouping of troops in Transnistria for the access of Moldovan goods to the Russian market. Chisinau will go forward in words, delaying negotiations, and at times making concessions, allowing for small rotations. However, essentially the policy of Chisinau will not change, since the position on Transnistria has been worked out in Washington, and the Moldovan elitist people do not have a wide field for maneuver. Moscow’s task is to prevent a military conflict and freeze the situation on the Dniester.
4. Russia has already refused to consider Moldova as a single country in the trade and economic plan: Gagauzia separately negotiates with Moscow to expand food supplies, and Transnistria is a separate country for the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance.
5. They will proceed to open aggression only if they achieve peacefully by reorienting Transnistria from Russia to the EU and the United States. In the meantime, for the new, not pro-Russian, Transnistria, Washington and Kiev are picking up a new, tame, leader. Perhaps they will be the former head of the republic, Igor Smirnov, who will be put under pressure through the business of blackmailing his Sheriff corporation.
6. The European Union is not interested in a military conflict, but will not have anything against the peaceful absorption of Transnistrian Moldavian Republic by Chisinau, therefore partly as a measure of pressure on Moldova, partly due to lack of money, limited financial assistance to Chisinau, “seeing the light from the scale of embezzlement of grants and assistance. A similar tactic has been chosen with respect to Gagauzia, which will gradually be romanized.
7. Tiraspol, focusing on Moscow, will try to resolve the conflict peacefully, but at the same time take steps to improve defense capability, complementing military units.
8. In the case of the absorption by Moldova of Romania, which was given the go-ahead of Bucharest, Moscow recognizes the independence of Transnistria.