Skip to comments.Twenty Years of Russian “Peacekeeping” in Moldova
Posted on 07/28/2012 8:51:14 PM PDT by bruinbirdman
Twenty years ago, on July 21, 1992, the Russian 14th Armys intervention in the Transnistria conflict forced Moldova to accept the deployment of Russian peacekeeping units. Six days later (July 28), the first of those units was air-lifted from Russias interior to Moldova, on both banks of the Nistru (Dniester) river. Twenty years later, Russian troops both with and without a peacekeeping title are still keeping, not the peace in Moldova (Chisinaus pitiful military is weaker than Tiraspols), but keeping the territory for Russia.
Russian "peacekeepers" in Moldova
Russias peacekeeping scenarios in Moldova/Transnistria in 1992 and in Georgia/South Ossetia in 2008 contain significant parallels. Each scenario involved a Russian-initiated and controlled escalation process, initially through local paramilitary proxies, leading to overt Russian conventional-force intervention.
In both cases, the Russian military already stationed in-theater or in direct vicinity, armed paramilitary insurgents and unleashed them against legitimate state authorities: Moldovan ones in Transnistria, Georgian ones in South Ossetia. The paramilitary stage of the operation, itself escalating from light to heavy weapons use, came close to removing Moldovan authorities from Transnistria (to which Moldovan authorities were still clinging in spring 1992) and Georgian ones from South Ossetia (where Tbilisi-loyal authorities had skillfully rebuilt a presence in 2006-2008). Both Moldova in 1992 and Georgia in 2008 faced imminent, potentially irreversible, and certainly ignominious loss of the territory.
Outmanned and outgunned by Russias proxies on the ground, Chisinau in 1992 and Tbilisi in 2008 had no choice but to send in conventional troops to deal with the paramilitary assault on their sovereign territory. Thus, Chisinau and Tiraspol escalated to the conventional-force level. This was the only response available to them, if only because Moldova and Georgia did not have or wish to have any other type of forces; paramilitary warfare by proxy being Russias distinct specialty.
Taking seriously the international recognition of their territorial integrity, Chisinau and Tbilisi stated their case accordingly. However, their conventional-force response was improvised under heavy time-pressure in both cases. And in both cases, the Russian military counter-escalated with overwhelming force, promptly ending the fighting on Russias own terms. The Russians controlled the escalation process throughout, outmatching the Moldovans in 1992 and the Georgians in 2008 at each rung on the escalation-counter-escalation ladder.
These conflicts exhibit many differences along with similarities overall. The Russian peacekeeping paradigm (until 2008 in Georgia, continuing in Moldova) is one of the similarities. This pattern suggests that the Russian military and intelligence services executed some off-the-shelf contingency plans in 1992 and 2008. The Russian government characterizes its 2008 invasion of Georgias territory as a case of coercion to peace (prinuzhdenie k miru) a specifically Russian version of peacekeeping operations.
On the 20th anniversary of the intervention in Moldova, Russias State Secretary and Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Grigory Karasin wrote: Attempts to discredit Russias peacekeeping operation by claiming that it does not correspond with UN peacekeeping standards, are not even worth discussing. In the same vein, conversations [razgovory] about reformatting the peacekeeping operation make no sense without clear agreements to work out Transnistrias special status, reliably guaranteed. In common with other Russian diplomats, who reference Moldovas territorial integrity with decreasing frequency even as a theoretical proposition, Karasin omits to mention it in his retrospective account, although the 1992 ceasefire agreement had paid lip service to Moldovas territorial integrity (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 23).
Karasin directly supervises Russian diplomacys work on the Transnistria conflict, personally holding discussions on this with Western and Moldovan counterparts on a bilateral basis (outside international frameworks). On that authority, he lists several pre-conditions to a political solution of the conflict. Casting Russia as protector of the Moldovan ethnic identity against Romanian identity, Karasin introduces the wording Transnistrias aspirations to self-determination, and wants guarantees for the rights of Moldovans, Russians, Ukrainians there. Karasin praises the 1997 Primakov Memorandum and the 2003 Kozak Memorandum (naming the documents but not the authors) as valuable proposals for a political settlement, although these documents are anathema to all parties other than Moscow and Tiraspol. He omits any other proposal, except when condemning Moldovas 2005 law on the principles of conflict-resolution as an insuperable obstacle to resolution. Failing to mention the international 5+2 negotiating format, Karasin insists that Russia is a guarantor of implementing any eventual solution a role long-demanded but never acknowledged or foreseen in the 5+2 or any other format. Karasin insists that Russias peacekeeping mission fully corresponds to Russias status as mediator and guarantor of the political settlement of the Transnistria problem (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, July 23).
All this suggests that Moscow seeks to: bypass the 5+2 negotiations, in which it participates pro forma; throw back the negotiating process to a situation in which Chisinau and Tiraspol are treated as co-equal parties, in a common state [confederal] or a federalized state; place such a state or any solution under Russian political-military guarantees (Russia offers to Ukraine to become the second-fiddle guarantor Interfax-Ukraine, July 12); and in the meantime a long meantime play ethnic politics in right-bank Moldova and Transnistria in a more intrusive manner than at any time since 1992.
Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. It has few natural resources and exports mainly agricultural products including sunflowers and wine. Moldova is ground zero of human trafficking in Europe. There are hundreds of thousands of orphans. The kids get turned out of the orphanages at 16 and 70% end up being trafficked, particularly the girls. Lured by promises of jobs they end up in Saudia Arabia.
Not only Saudia Arabia but many other countries.
Russia sells Moldova all of its natural gas. Gazprom is the Russian state owned company. They will cut the gas off for any or no reason. The Russians have a lot of blood on their hands.
Then there's the Caspian gas and 'stan gas looking for a southern route to bypass Gazprom and supply Europe.
The Rooskies are causing all kinds of mischief in that area.
Interesting. Thanks for posting.
I have been to Moldova/Transnistria ... and was more than a little shocked to see the Russian Army manning the various “checkpoints” along the highways ... even though it had been told me before we got there. It did feel a little like never, never land. It has been about 15 years since then. It is sad to think that it is still the same. Surely the Romanian speaking populace and the Russian speaking populace can, over time, learn to co-exist peacefully without the “help” of the Russian army.