Threat to peace on the Dniester


The past year has revealed principal contradictions between Moldova and Pridnestrovie in the peaceful settlement of the conflict, which has lasted for more than two decades. The lack of progress in the negotiation process and blocking actions on the part of Moldavia call into question the effectiveness of the existing negotiation format “5 + 2”. In an interview to “Krasnaya Zvezda” Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pridnestrovie Vitaly Ignatiev told about the impacts of the pressure on Pridnestrovie, for what purpose and who profits from maintaining the conflict potential on the Dniester.

Vitaly Viktorovich, recently, there has been an increase in tension of military-political situation on the Dniester. What, in your opinion, has caused such a sharp turn in the rhetoric and actions of Kishinev and who is primarily interested in it?

Current complication of the military-political situation on the Dniester is systemic in nature. The actions of the Moldovan side which are supported by the US and EU aim at undermining the foundations of the peacekeeping operation and the gradual destruction of the trilateral format. Starting from June 26, 2014 a delegation of Moldova in the Joint Control Commission (a collegial governing body of the Joint peacekeeping operations. - Ed. ) has blocked its full-fledged work.

A significant fact: for the first time in several years the Moldovan side disrupted the annual check of battle readiness of the Joint Peacekeeping Forces. As you know, official Kishinev consistently at various international platforms declares the need for early replacement peacekeeping operation carried out under the auspices of the Russia on the Dniester on the kind of “civilian observer mission”. At that, Moldova regularly instigates provocations in the Security zone with the participation of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

So, for the last 2014 there were recorded around 30 conflict situation in the Security zone, eight of which could potentially lead to a sharp deterioration of the situation and could cause the situation to get out of control. In addition, over the past few months, the Moldovan authorities denied entry to over 40 Russian servicemen from the Russian military contingent in the joint peacekeeping forces and the Operational Group of Russian troops in Pridnestrovie.

The reason for such actions, in my opinion, lies on the surface. Through a comprehensive expansion and strengthening its presence, the West is speedily seeking to reshape this regional space as it sees fit. A serious obstacle to this is the existence of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, strategically focused on the maximum rapprochement with Russia and the inclusion in the Eurasian integration processes, as well as the functioning of the peacekeeping mechanism on the Dniester.

How far does the current format of the peacekeeping mission meet the present security situation in the region and what can its replacement on civilian observers threaten?

As you know, Pridnestrovie during all the years of its independent development has taken consistent, clear and reasoned position on the need to preserve the unique in its effectiveness peacekeeping operation until a final and comprehensive political settlement of the Moldovan- Pridnestrovian conflict.

I would like to note that as early as in 1995 in a referendum on withdrawal of the 14th Russian Army from Pridnestrovie overwhelming majority of the population voted for the preservation of the Russian military presence. Calls for the replacement of the trilateral format of the operation do not hold water, especially in the current complication of the situation.

It is worth noting that the Republic of Moldova has previously intended to denounce the Agreement on principles of peaceful settlement of 1992 to ensure stability and security. Back in 2006, the Moldovan Parliament was considering a draft resolution on denunciation of the agreement. In the explanatory note the authors of the initiatives pointed out that they reasoned from the requests of the Moldovan leadership to replace the trilateral peacekeeping forces with international civil observers operating in the Security zone under the mandate of the OSCE and the process should be expedited by involving the European Union and the United States.

It is characteristic that similar calls from the political leadership of Moldova sound today. Thus, one cannot exclude the possibility of the application of the scenario of 2006 by the Moldovan side, but with subsequent unilateral withdrawal of Moldova from the Agreement of 1992 and an appeal to the EU and the United States on the establishment of so-called international monitoring mission.

Obviously, under the conditions of years of unresolved conflict between Moldova and Pridnestrovie the denunciation of the Moldovan side of the basic treaty is able to open the “Pandora's box” of military confrontation on the Dniester which more than 22 years has remained firmly bound by mutual obligations under the trilateral peacekeeping operation.

After the resumption of the negotiations in the “5 + 2”, its participants repeatedly stated that there was no progress, it was also noted a violation of previous agreements. What is it demonstrated by and for what purpose is the existing format of negotiations discredited?

Indeed, last year the Moldovan- Pridnestrovian relations were largely degraded in many aspects. After only a year after the resumption of the negotiations within the tactics of “small steps” proclaimed by the leaders of Pridnestrovie and Moldova in January 2012 it became evident the unwillingness of Moldovan partners for the new format of work, which resulted in a return to their habitual methods of threats, sanction pressure and blackmail.

The introduction of the Moldovan side of discriminatory import excise taxes, refusal to issue phytosanitary certificates of the Moldovan standard required for the transit of Pridnestrovian goods through Ukraine, intensification of repressive mechanism of initiation of criminal cases against officials of Pridnestrovie, illegal detentions and arrests of our citizens ... The population of Pridnestrovie and Moldova is the main hostage of such destructive policies within the negotiation process.

All this illustrates that the Moldovan side is still guided by an outdated formula of “arm-twisting” which has nothing in common with the generally accepted principles of the negotiation process. The main obstacle to make a civilized political decision, in my opinion, is a long-term provision with certain external overseers of certain “comfort zone” for one of the parties to the conflict, in the framework of which it not only gets political support and significant amounts of international financial assistance, but also uses wide arsenal of tools of pressure on the other party with absolute impunity.

Nevertheless, we believe that the potential of the settlement is still high. On the negotiating table there are enough initiatives that can bring together the parties in resolving sensitive for the population of Pridnestrovie and Moldova practical issues. By the way, since the resumption of the negotiations the Pridnestrovian side has introduced almost fifty initiatives. All of them are designed to solve the problems of freedom of movement, unblock transport communication, infrastructure, trade and economic relations, and many others.

It is clear for all that the escalation of the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine has influenced the current situation on both sides of the Dniester. How significantly is this effect and how has it affected the situation primarily in the border area?

Despite the fact that Ukraine continues to be a guarantor of the Moldovan- Pridnestrovian settlement in the international format “5 + 2”, the current position of the Ukrainian leadership, unfortunately, in recent times has changed rapidly. If in 2013 the Ukrainian Chairmanship of the OSCE as a whole made ​​a positive contribution to the effectiveness of the dialogue between Pridnestrovie and Moldova, then in 2014 the relations soured considerably.

Since March of last year, Kiev carries out the operation “Border” by blocking the movement of citizens of the Russian Federation, the so-called anti-tank ditch along the 450 km of the Pridnestrovian- Ukrainian border has been constructed. Additional restrictions on supplies of excisable products to Pridnestrovie have been placed. Pridnestrovian imported goods have been blocked under various pretexts. With these actions Ukraine does not only violate a number of the international conventions and agreements which it adopted, but also the arrangements of the negotiation process of which it is the guarantor.


We believe that the potential of the settlement is still high. On the negotiating table there are enough initiatives that can bring together the parties in resolving sensitive for the population of Pridnestrovie and Moldova practical issues.


Concern of the Pridnestrovian side in this regard is caused by the plans of cooperation between border services of Moldova and Ukraine which include the organization of joint patrols, as well as the functioning of the joint border “points of contact” at the Moldovan- Ukrainian border. In the current difficult situation the initiation of Moldova and Ukraine of additional blocking measures applied to Pridnestrovians can have extremely negative consequences. Of course, such unfriendly actions of the neighbouring state do not contribute to the preservation of stability at the Pridnestrovian -Ukrainian border and also around the Moldovan- Pridnestrovian relations in general.

However, despite the worsening of the internal Ukrainian crisis and obviously inadequate measures of the neighbouring country which are expressed in hindering Pridnestrovian cargoes in transit, the ban on crossing the border of Ukraine for the citizens of Pridnestrovie, as well as regular attacks in the media, the leadership of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is based on the need to preserve the traditional good-neighbourly relationship. I can say with confidence: Pridnestrovians have always treated and treat Ukraine kindly.

Given the evolving situation in the region and the general vector of the Moldovan- Pridnestrovian relations, how do you assess the prospects for further development of the situation? What steps need to be taken to relieve the tension and for further progress in the peaceful settlement?

In circumstances when the Moldovan- Pridnestrovian conflict is far from being complete, it is the joint peacekeeping operation that is an effective practical mechanism to ensure regional stability. Even in difficult conditions of the geopolitical turbulence the peacekeeping operation continues to be the main guarantor of peace on the Dniester. Maintaining its working capacity is a top priority of all constructive forces.

As for the level of bilateral Moldovan- Pridnestrovian relations, the recipe for defusing tension is as simple as effective and includes responsibly fulfilling obligations taken in the framework of the settlement process, the non-use of instruments of pressure on the other party of the negotiations, as well as refusal to provoke incidents and other methods of “stirring up” the situation.

In strategic terms, the Pridnestrovian side proposes to seek resolution of the conflict in the framework of the “civilized divorce” and the establishment of good neighbourly relations between the two republics. The basis of this approach is an objective consideration of current realities and international recognition of the democratically expressed will of the people who have lived for almost a quarter century in the permanent unstable conflict. Any other conceptual and potentially viable proposals have not been drawn up for all the years of the settlement process.