Russia has no choice but keep its troops in Transnistria, in order to ensure the peace and security of the region, which is allegedly targeted by the Republic of Moldova, Romania and NATO. The false narrative is spread by the Kremlin's bullhorn, Sputnik, in the context in which Transnistria has become one of the themes of the Chisinau election campaign.
NEWS: “[…] The Russian troops must guard not only peace, but also a huge arsenal of ammunition from the times of the USSR, near the village of Cobasna, which cannot be transported. It is dangerous to destroy on the spot 20 thousand tons of missiles and shells. In the event of an explosion, the scattering radius would be 40 kilometers. At the same time, Moldova and Ukraine are blocking the rotation of Russian peacekeepers - violating the agreement under which peacekeepers were introduced in Transnistria (in the presence of the OSCE chief, this document was signed by the presidents of Russia and Moldova).
Chisinau is trying to liquidate the peacekeeping mission “in small steps”, without withdrawing from the peace agreement of 1992. The recent exercises carried out by the Romanian and American special forces on the territory of the Republic of Moldova have revealed the existence of a force scenario. According to the agreement between Chisinau and Bucharest, Romania can send troops and military equipment to Moldova for joint operations.
On the other hand, the leader in Tiraspol, Vadim Krasnoselski, has repeatedly stated that the unrecognized republic is categorically against the withdrawal of the Russian task force from Transnistria. The presence of Russian troops in Transnistria for almost 29 years has contributed to peacekeeping on both banks of the Dniester and created conditions for the process of negotiation and political dialogue.Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls the plans to withdraw the Operational Group of Russian Troops from Transnistria an attempt to undermine peaceful settlement efforts.Moldova's turning towards NATO and the hypothetical withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers (as imagined by some politicians and military leaders in Chisinau, Bucharest, Kiev, Brussels, Washington) is extremely dangerous for the region. The regional escalation to accelerate the “Atlanticization” of the Republic of Moldova is completely unconstructive. Amicable negotiations are a better option.”
NARRATIVES: 1. Russia intervened in Transnistria as a peacemaker. 2. The presence of Russian troops in Transnistria secures peace in the region and creates optimal conditions for the Chisinau-Tiraspol negotiations. 3. Russian forces are forced to remain in Transnistria to guard the Cobasna depot. 4. Chisinau is trying to end the peacekeeping mission. 5. Romania and NATO are considering attacking Transnistria. 6. The presence of Russian troops discourages NATO's aggressive plans.
LOCAL CONTEXT / ETHOS: Transnistria is one of the topics most often addressed in recent years in fake news and disinformation. The region has become of interest for part of the political class in Chisinau (initially the former PD leader, the fugitive oligarch Vlad Plahotnicu, then Igor Dodon and his Socialists) thanks to its electoral potential. After years in which the Tiraspol authorities made efforts to prevent the participation of the local population in elections, in recent years the situation has changed, and voters have been encouraged to vote and even transported in an organized manner, by the thousands, to polling stations, the main beneficiary of the votes being the former Socialist president, Igor Dodon.The narratives about Transnistria seek to defend the idea that war can break out again because of Chisinau, Romania and the West, which is allegedly already training its soldiers for missions on the left bank of the Dniester.The Transnistrian region has been self-governing since the early 1990s, when separatists, backed by Russian army units, waged a war with Chisinau. The conflict has since been frozen and no attempt to regulate it has been successful. The international community does not recognize Transnistria, but for 30 years Russia has offered economic support and security guarantees through its military in the region.
PURPOSE: To create a climate of fear regarding a possible deterioration of the situation in Transnistria and the resurgence of war if the elections are won by forces that have good relations with the EU and Romania. To present Russia as the true ally and guarantor of Moldova's security. To cosmeticize history so that Russia's role as an aggressor in the Transnistrian conflict is forgotten.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Russia did not intervene in Transnistria as a peacemaker but as a combatant, having already equipped the separatist forces, and the intervention of the Russian army turned the war in favor of the separatists; This is also evidenced by the fact that the ceasefire agreement was signed by the then President of the Republic of Moldova, Mircea Snegur, and the former Kremlin leader Boris Yeltsin. The presence of the Russian troops in Transnistria has been repeatedly challenged by Chisinau, which has demanded their withdrawal in accordance with the commitments made by Moscow itself, as set out in the Final Declaration of the OSCE Summit in Istanbul.Instead of creating optimal conditions for negotiations, this presence provides security guarantees to the Tiraspol regime, which is also encouraged by the economic support it receives - for example, Moscow has delivered billions of dollars in gas without asking the separatists for money in return, saying it should be paid by the central government in Chisinau. With Russia's support, Transnistria has become a gray area on the outskirts of Europe, a space that, being largely separated from the international system, allows for suspicious financial and economic activities.Nobody is forcing Moscow to maintain its troops to guard the Cobasna depot; on the contrary, Russia should have moved its ammunition from there for decades and maintaining it - under the pretext that it is impossible to transport it now - gives it the opportunity to keep its soldiers there. Chisinau did not call for an end to the peacekeeping mission, but only for Russia to withdraw its occupation forces. Neither the Republic of Moldova, nor NATO, nor Romania conducted exercises simulating the invasion of Transnistria, and this possibility has never been publicly discussed.