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Moldova accuses Russian troops in Transnistria of violations

Moldova accuses Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria of improperly operating drones and weapons during exercises, prompting a pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign claiming Moldova intends Transnistria’s forced reintegration, ISW says. Moldova sees the Russian military presence in its territory illegal
Transnistria state emblem and flags, downtown of the city Tiraspol, occupied Transnistria, Moldova. 25 August 2020. Photo:
Moldova accuses Russian troops in Transnistria of violations

Moldova accused Russian peacekeepers in its Transnistria of multiple violations, including the improper use of drones during exercises in late December 2023, prompting an information attack by a pro-Kremlin mouthpiece, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). 

For several years now, Moldova deems the presence of Russian troops in Transnistria as illegitimate, and has repeatedly called for their withdrawal from the country.

During a January 18 meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Joint Control Commission (JCC), Moldovan delegation members called for an investigation into Russian peacekeepers. They raised concerns about the use of small arms, drones, and imitation weapons during a 22 December 2023 exercise where the peacekeepers were supposedly defending their outpost in the Moldovan security zone, ISW says.

Moldova’s authorities asserted that the presence and utilization of these weapons by Russian peacekeeping forces within the security zone contravened JCC protocols. Additionally, they contended that some of these weapons and drones had not been adequately disclosed as part of the Russian peacekeepers’ arsenal. In response, a prominent Russian milblogger with Kremlin affiliations claimed on 21 January that Moldovan authorities had been intensifying pressure on the Russian-backed breakaway republic of Transnistria. This pressure included calls for the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers and economic measures, according to ISW.

The milblogger contended that Moldovan pressure was aligned with the goal of forcibly reintegrating Transnistria into Moldova, echoing recent statements by Transnistrian President Vadim Krasnoselsky. These assertions, both from the milblogger and Krasnoselsky, appear to be part of an information campaign intending to destabilize Moldova. Moldova shares a border with NATO member Romania, and this narrative could potentially be used to justify any future Russian escalation in the region, as per ISW.

Russian forces have maintained a presence in Transnistria, a breakaway region on Moldova’s east, since 1992 following their involvement in the Transnistria War against the Moldovan government forces. They are stationed at the Cobasna ammunition depot and participate in the Joint Control Commission overseeing the area.

The Moldovan government considers the presence of Russian troops within its borders as illegitimate and has repeatedly called for their withdrawal, advocating for their replacement by international forces. However, Russia has consistently opposed these demands.

Notably, on 15 March 2022, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe officially recognized Transnistria as Moldovan territory under Russian occupation.

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