The former official newspaper of the Moldovan Government, Moldova Suverana (Sovereign Moldova), claims that the Republic of Moldova should offer Ukraine the separatist territory of Transnistria in exchange for Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia.
The President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, should request during her visit to Kiev, on January 12, an exchange of territories with Ukraine, the former official paper of the government in Chisinau, Moldova Suverana, reads. The author argues that the Republic of Moldova should offer Ukraine the separatist territory of Transnistria in exchange for Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia, regions that were incorporated into Ukraine in 1990, during the former USSR. "President Sandu has a historical and legitimate right to ask Zelensky to initiate, as a matter of priority, all political and legal steps to return Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia to the Republic of Moldova. That should be her historic mission as President of the Country! She has every right, because Ukraine arbitrarily owns lands that never belonged to it, that were temporarily given to it by the former Soviet Power. If Ukraine was willing to break from the former USSR and denounced it, then it should also denounce some acts that turned it into an imperialist country, which seizes foreign territories. This is also suggested by Russia through the legitimate recovery of the Crimean Peninsula", according to the article, in which the occupation of Crimea by Russia is presented as a legitimate action and Romania is accused of "cowardice" because it did not ask from Ukraine the territories it ceded in 1940. NARRATIVES: 1. The Republic of Moldova must submit claims to Ukraine for the territories incorporated in it by the former USSR. 2. The Republic of Moldova can exchange territories with Ukraine - to offer Transnistria in exchange for Southern Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. 3. (indirectly) The Republic of Moldova has the right to such claims as it is the successor of medieval Moldavia. 4. Crimea belongs to Russia as of right and its annexation was justified. LOCAL CONTEXT / ETHOS: The idea of an exchange of territories between the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine is not new. It has been circulated in some cases, at least in the last decade, especially by supporters of the union of the Republic of Moldova with Romania, such as the former Minister of Defense of the Republic of Moldova, Ion Costaș, or the former President of Romania, Traian Băsescu. In this case it would be the grouping into a single state of most of the territories annexed by the USSR initially in 1940, as a result of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, and later at the end of World War II. Moscow then granted the Ukrainian SSR the north of the old Romanian province of Bukovina, as well as the south of the province of Bessarabia. The newly established MSSR received part of the so-called Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which Moscow had also created as a bridgehead in 1924, breaking a piece of Ukraine. The idea of southern Bessarabia and northern Bukovina belonging to the Republic of Moldova, however, also meets the pro-sovereignty theories according to which it’s the legal successor of medieval Moldavia (ruled by Stephen the Great) so it has the right to claim its territory - including Romanian Moldavia. The theory of claiming Romanian territories in Transnistria, reactivated on the eve of Maya Sandu's visit to Kiev, now seems to be taken over by forces that are most likely trying to prevent too close a tie between Chisinau and Kiev that the new Moldovan president is counting on and which would also suit the Ukrainian president in order to no longer get "squeezed" between two fronts. While by promoting this idea, some unionist leaders are trying to strengthen their political capital, the Kremlin would be interested in "troubling the waters" in the relation between Chisinau and Kiev. It is hard to imagine Ukraine offering two rich regions, including the mouth of the Danube, in exchange for a self-proclaimed territory that is de facto ruled by Moscow. PURPOSE: 1. To dynamite the Chisinau / Kiev relations on the eve of the meeting between the presidents of the two states. 2. To bring artificial and conflicting issues to the bilateral agenda in order to prevent the development of strong relations that would weaken the Kremlin's influence in the region. 3. To revive the so-called Moldavians who also consider Moldavia on the right bank of the Prut as part of the Republic of Moldova, " Stephen the Great’s legacy". 4. To justify the occupation of Crimea by Russia and, in a broader context, to feed the theory of "Ukraine - artificial state" WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The Republic of Moldova has no legal ground to ask Ukraine to cede territories assigned to it by the former Soviet administration in 1940; those territories were seized from Romania. On the other hand, even if, from a historical point of view, the three southern counties belonged to Bessarabia, this is by no means true for northern Bukovina. Even the Soviets and Ukrainians admitted that, designating two distinct minorities on the territory of Ukraine - Moldovans in southern Bessarabia and Romanians in northern Bukovina. GRAIN OF TRUTH: Moscow has arbitrarily established the boundaries between the former Moldavian and Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republics without taking into account historical realities, the linguistic or popular factor. WHOM THE NARRATIVES SERVE: The emergence of conflicting topics such as territorial claims between Chisinau and Kiev serves Moscow, which is tacitly involved in an armed conflict with Ukraine. Moreover, such a subject would justify the annexation of Crimea by Russia.