Transnistria conflict

1990–present conflict between Moldova and its separatist region of Transnistria

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Transnistria conflict
Part of the post-Soviet conflicts
Transnistria conflict.svg
Date2 September 1990 – present
(31 years, 8 months, 2 weeks and 1 day)
Moldovan eastern bank of the Dniester, the city of Bender (Tighina) and some villages at the western bank of the Dniester (Chițcani, Cremenciug, Gîsca).
Status Ongoing; frozen conflict
  • De facto independence of the Moldovan eastern bank of the Dniester as Transnistria
  • Transnistria gains control of Tighina (Bender) and some villages at the west bank of the Dniester
  • Moldova maintains direct control of some villages at the east bank of the Dniester
  • Establishment of the Administrative-Territorial Units of the Left Bank of the Dniester in 2005, encompassing all lands at the eastern bank of the Dniester (but not those at the western bank of it) controlled by Transnistria


  • Supported by:
  •  Romania (military and diplomatic support)[1][2]
  •  Ukraine (diplomatic support,[3][4] military support offered if requested by Moldova[5])


The Transnistria conflict (Romanian: Conflictul din Transnistria; Russian: Приднестровский конфликт, romanizedPridnestrovskiy konflikt) is an ongoing frozen conflict between Moldova and the unrecognized state of Transnistria. Its most active phase was the Transnistria War. There have been several attempts to resolve the conflict, although none have been successful.[9][10] The conflict may be considered as having started on 2 September 1990, when Transnistria made a formal sovereignty declaration from Moldova (then part of the Soviet Union).[11]

The Transnistria is internationally recognised as a part of Moldova. It obtained diplomatic recognition only from three post-Soviet unrecognized states: Abkhazia, South Ossetia and the Artsakh.

Historical status of Transnistria

Territorial situation of the conflict
Administrative divisions of actual Transnistria

Until the Second World War

The Soviet Union in the 1930s had an autonomous region of Transnistria inside Ukraine, called the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (MASSR), where nearly half of the population were Romanian-speaking people, and with Tiraspol as its capital.

During World War II, when Romania, aided by Nazi Germany, took control of Transnistria, it did not attempt to annex the occupied territory during the war, although it had plans to do so in the future.[12][13]

Territorial consequences of the 1992 conflict

Left bank of the Dniester

During the War of Transnistria, some villages in the central part of Transnistria (on the eastern bank of the Dniester), rebelled against the new separatist Transnistria (PMR) authorities. They have been under effective Moldovan control as a consequence of their rebellion against the PMR. These localities are: commune Cocieri (including village Vasilievca), commune Molovata Nouă (including village Roghi), commune Corjova (including village Mahala), commune Coșnița (including village Pohrebea), commune Pîrîta, and commune Doroțcaia. The village of Corjova is in fact divided between PMR and Moldovan central government areas of control. Roghi is also controlled by the PMR authorities.

Right bank of the Dniester

At the same time, some areas which are situated on the right bank of the Dniester are under PMR control. These areas consist of the city of Bender with its suburb Proteagailovca, the communes Gîsca, Chițcani (including villages Mereneşti and Zahorna), and the commune of Cremenciug, formally in the Căușeni District, situated south of the city of Bender.

The breakaway PMR authorities also claim the communes of Varnița, in the Anenii Noi District, a northern suburb of Bender, and Copanca, in the Căușeni District, south of Chițcani, but these villages remain under Moldovan control.

Later tensions

Several disputes have arisen from these cross-river territories. In 2005, PMR Militia entered Vasilievca, which is located over the strategic road linking Tiraspol and Rîbnița, but withdrew after a few days.[14][15] In 2006 there were tensions around Varniţa. In 2007 there was a confrontation between Moldovan and PMR forces in the Dubăsari-Cocieri area; however, there were no casualties. On 13 May 2007, the mayor of the village of Corjova, which is under Moldovan control, was arrested by the PMR militsia (police) together with a councilor of Moldovan-controlled part of the Dubăsari district.[16]

Amid increased tensions between Russia and Ukraine, on 14 January 2022 Ukrainian military intelligence declared that Russian special services were preparing "provocations" against Russian soldiers present in Transnistria at the time to create a pretext for a Russian invasion of Ukraine.[17]

Position of the PMR government advocates

According to PMR advocates, the territory to the east of the Dniester River never belonged either to Romania, nor to its predecessors, such as the Principality of Moldavia. This territory was split off from the Ukrainian SSR in a political maneuver of the USSR to become a seed of the Moldavian SSR (in a manner similar to the creation of the Karelo-Finnish SSR). In 1990, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian SSR was proclaimed in the region by a number of conservative local Soviet officials opposed to perestroika. This action was immediately declared void by the then General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev.[18]

At the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moldova became independent. The Moldovan Declaration of Independence denounced the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and declared the 2 August 1940 "Law of the USSR on the establishment of the Moldavian SSR" null and void. The PMR side argues that, since this law was the only legislative document binding Transnistria to Moldova, there is neither historical nor legal basis for Moldova's claims over the territories on the left bank of the Dniester.[19]

A 2010, study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder showed that the majority of Transnistria's population supports the country's separation from Moldova. According to the study, more than 80% of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, and 60% of ethnic Moldovans in Transnistria preferred independence or annexation by Russia rather than reunification with Moldova.[20]

In 2006, officials of the country decided to hold a referendum to determine the status of Transnistria. There were two statements on the ballot: the first one was, "Renunciation of independence and potential future integration into Moldova"; the second was, "Independence and potential future integration into Russia". The results of this double referendum were that a large section of the population was against the first statement (96.61%)[21] and in favor of the second one (98.07%).[22]

Moldovan position

Moldova lost de facto control of Transnistria in 1992, in the wake of the War of Transnistria. However, the Republic of Moldova considers itself the rightful successor state to the Moldavian SSR (which was guaranteed the right to secession from the Soviet Union under the last version of the Soviet Constitution). By the principle of territorial integrity, Moldova claims that any form of secession from the state without the consent of the central Moldovan government is illegal. The Moldavian side hence believes that its position is backed by international law [23]

It considers the current Transnistria-based PMR government to be illegitimate and not the rightful representative of the region's population, which has a Moldovan plurality (39.9% as of 1989).[24] The Moldovan side insists that Transnistria cannot exist as an independent political entity and must be reintegrated into Moldova.

According to Moldovan sources, the political climate in Transnistria does not allow the free expression of the will of the people of the region and supporters of reintegration of Transnistria in Moldova are subjected to harassment, arbitrary arrests and other types of intimidation from separatist authorities.

Because of the non-recognition of Transnistria's independence, Moldova believes that all inhabitants of Transnistria are legally speaking, citizens of Moldova. However, it is estimated that 60,000 to 80,000 inhabitants of Transnistria acquired Russian citizenship[25] and around 20,000 Transnistrians have acquired Ukrainian citizenship. As a result, Moldovan authorities have tried to block the installation of a Russian and Ukrainian consulate in Tiraspol.[25]

International recognition of the sovereignty of Transnistria

Only three polities recognize Transnistria's sovereignty, which are themselves largely unrecognized states: Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Artsakh. All four states are members of the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations.

United Nations Resolution A/72/L.58

Results of the United Nations General Assembly vote about the withdrawal of foreign soldiers in Transnistria.
  In favour
  Absent when the vote took place
  Non-UN member

On 22 June 2018, the Republic of Moldova submitted a UN resolution that calls for "Complete and unconditional withdrawal of foreign military forces from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, including Transnistria." The resolution was adopted by a simple majority.[26]

See also


  1. ^ Adam, Vlad (2017). Romanian involvement in the Transnistrian War (Thesis). Leiden University. pp. 1–31.
  2. ^ "Iohannis: Națiunile Unite nu trebuie să tolereze conflictul din Transnistria". Agora (in Romanian). 29 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Ukraine's stance on Transnistria remains unchanged – Zelensky". Ukrinform. 12 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Ukraine helps Moldova regain control over border in Transnistrian region". Euromaidan Press. 21 July 2017.
  5. ^ Ioniță, Tudor (27 April 2022). "VIDEO // Arestovici: Ucraina poate rezolva problema transnistreană "cât ai pocni din degete", dar trebuie ca R. Moldova să-i ceară ajutorul". Deschide.MD (in Romanian).
  6. ^ O'Reilly, Kieran; Higgins, Noelle (2008). "The role of the Russian Federation in the Pridnestrovian conflict: an international humanitarian law perspective". Irish Studies in International Affairs. Royal Irish Academy. 19: 57–72. doi:10.3318/ISIA.2008.19.57. JSTOR 25469836.
  7. ^ Munteanu, Anatol (2020). "The hybrid warfare triggered by Russian Federation in the Republic of Moldova". Editura Academiei Oamenilor de Știință din România. 12 (1): 129–162.
  8. ^ "Russia defends "peacekeepers" the new Moldovan president wants out". 7 December 2020.
  9. ^ Cojocaru, Natalia (2006). "Nationalism and identity in Transnistria". Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research. 19 (3–4): 261–272. doi:10.1080/13511610601029813. S2CID 53474094.
  10. ^ Roper, Steven D. (2001). "Regionalism in Moldova: the case of Transnistria and Gagauzia". Regional & Federal Studies. 11 (3): 101–122. doi:10.1080/714004699. S2CID 154516934.
  11. ^ Blakkisrud, Helge; Kolstø, Pål (2013). "From secessionist conflict toward a functioning state: processes of state- and nation-building in Transnistria". Post-Soviet Affairs. 27 (2): 178–210. doi:10.2747/1060-586X.27.2.178. S2CID 143862872.
  12. ^ Charles King: "The Moldovans", Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, California, 1999, page 93
  13. ^ Memoirs of Gherman Pântea, mayor of Odessa 1941–1944, in ANR-DAIC, d.6
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 May 2006. Retrieved 23 December 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 March 2005. Retrieved 20 January 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 8 February 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Russia is preparing a pretext for invading Ukraine: US official". Al Jazeera English. 14 January 2022.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 June 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "How people in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria feel about annexation by Russia". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  21. ^ ch, Beat Müller, beat (at-sign) sudd (dot). "Transnistrische Moldawische Republik (Moldawien), 17. September 2006 : Verzicht auf Unabhängigkeit – [in German]". Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  22. ^ ch, Beat Müller, beat (at-sign) sudd (dot). "Transnistrische Moldawische Republik (Moldawien), 17. September 2006 : Unabhängigkeitskurs und Beitritt zu Russland – [in German]". Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Looking for a Solution Under International Law for the Moldova – Transnistria Conflict". Opinio Juris. 17 March 2020. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  24. ^ Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Refworld | World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples – Transnistria (unrecognised state)". Refworld. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  25. ^ a b Refugees, United Nations High Commissioner for. "Refworld | Moldova and Russia: Whether a holder of Ukrainian citizenship, born in Tiraspol, could return to Tiraspol and acquire Russian citizenship (2005)". Refworld. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  26. ^ "General Assembly of the United Nations". Retrieved 15 October 2020.


  1. Oleksandr Pavliuk, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (2004). The Black Sea Region: Cooperation and Security Building. EastWest Institute. ISBN 0-7656-1225-9.
  2. Janusz Bugajski (2002). Toward an Understanding of Russia: New European Perspectives. p. 102. ISBN 0-87609-310-1.
  3. "Transnistria: alegeri nerecunoscute". Ziua. 13 December 2005. Archived from the original on 30 June 2006.
  4. James Hughes; Gwendolyn Sasse, eds. (2002). Ethnicity and Territory in the Former Soviet Union: Regions in conflict. Routledge Ed. ISBN 0-7146-5226-1.

External links

Transnistrian side
Moldovan side
International organizations
Ukrainian side
Romanian side
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