The Republic of Moldova wants to trade territories with Ukraine, conceding Transnistria in exchange for southern Bessarabia and Bukovina, according to a Russian publication that reinterprets a statement made by an MP representing the Moldovan Parliament majority. The same source also picks up on a number of older false narratives about the Republic of Moldova and raises the question of Moscow recognizing the independence of Transnistria.
NEWS: “According to the “Кремлевская прачка” [Telegram] account [the Kremlin Laundry], Vasile Șoimaru, a deputy with the Action and Solidarity Party controlled by Maia Sandu, argued in favor of offering Transnistria to Ukraine. In other words, Moldova should concede the territory of this recognized republic, which is home to the Operational Group of Russian Forces.
Washington has long demanded the evacuation of Russian military from the region. “We could have given Transnistria to Ukraine, trading it for historical Bessarabia and the territory of Bukovina beyond Chernivtsi”, the Moldovan MP said.
By the way, in early September, the former commander of the United States Army Europe, Ben Hodges, said “Maybe it’s time for Ukraine and Moldova to resolve the Transniestra problem now. Kremlin really can’t stop it at this point”.
Neutrality consists in the total support of Ukraine and using Moldova as a hub for the transit of Western weapons and wounded Ukrainian soldiers.
Perhaps the time has come for Russia to finally recognize Transnistria, without further waiting for rockets to come flying from Moldova”.
NARRATIVES: 1. The Republic of Moldova is ready to concede Transnistria as part of a territory exchange with Ukraine. 2. The Republic of Moldova got involved in the war, siding with Ukraine and breaching its neutrality status. 3. Russia should recognize the independence of Transnistria.
BACKGROUND: The Republic of Moldova is the de facto heir to the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic (MSSR), a state created after the USSR occupied the territory of Bessarabia in 1940. At the time, northern Bukovina and southern Bessarabia were incorporated in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In exchange, Transnistria was annexed to the MSSR. In 1990, the region proclaimed its independence. Although it was never officially recognized by Moscow as such, Transnistria was and continued to be endorsed by the Kremlin. The region is also home to a Soviet-era munition depot, guarded by a Russian military force, despite Moscow officially pledging at the OSCE Summit of 1999 to withdraw its troops and military-grade munition from the area by the end of 2001.
Transnistria is considered one of the main elements Russia is using to blackmail Chișinău. Various Russian officials have either threatened or argued in favor of recognizing the independence of this breakaway region. After the start of the war in Ukraine, Kyiv has repeatedly referred to the security risk posed by this separatist region, despite its insignificant military strength. Chișinău has insisted on a peaceful resolution of the Transnistrian conflict.
PURPOSE: To create dissension between Chișinău and Kyiv, to promote the idea that the Republic of Moldova is an ally of Ukraine and an enemy of Moscow, thus justifying a potential Russian military aggression in this country.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Chișinău favors a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Transnistria, claiming the region is part of the Republic of Moldova, which is something the Moldovan Constitution recognizes. No Moldovan official has ever discussed the possibility of trading territories with Ukraine.
The statement made by PAS MP Vasile Șoimaru is taken out of context and misinterpreted. In an interview for jurnal.md, the Moldovan official addressed the time when the Republic of Moldova proclaimed its independence in 1992. Șoimaru referred to the trade of territories as a possible scenario for that period of time, not today. Conversely, in the interview he argues against making rash decisions in the current context.
“If the Union had been proclaimed two or three hours after the proclamation of independence, everything would have been a lot easier. This could have solved all problems back then, without ever needing Article 13 in the Constitution and all the other rotten pieces of legislation we can’t get rid of today. After all, we could have conceded the region of Transnistria to Ukraine, trading it for old Bessarabia and the territory of Bukovina beyond Chernivtsi”, Șoimaru said.
Ben Hodges’s statement also appears to have been misrepresented. The US official actually referred to settling the conflict in Transnistria by eliminating the separatist regime, not through a territory exchange.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin-linked media as well as pro-Russian politicians in Moldova have launched a number of accusations about the Republic of Moldova allegedly breaching its neutrality status and supporting Ukraine, which have never been substantiated and which were denied by Moldovan authorities.
With regard to recognizing the independence of Transnistria, this can be seen as a prologue to a possible annexation by Russia, which has already used this strategy in the case of Ukraine. Transnistria was in fact included in Russia’s original strategy when it planned the invasion of Ukraine. Back then, General Rustam Minnekayev, the deputy commander of the central military district, outlined Moscow’s plans to push the southern frontline as far as Transnistria. In addition, a photo was published depicting the directions of Russia’s attack, one of the arrows pointing to Transnistria.