SEPARATISM IN THE POST-SOVIET GEOGRAPHY AND RUSSIAN INTERVENTIONISM: THE CASE OF TRANSNISTRIA
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In the context of the collapse of the Soviet Union, a series of separatist movements emerged in the Soviet republics. Following independence, Moldova had to deal with a separatist movement in the Transnistrian region, supported by Russia. The desire not to lose control in the former Soviet area pushed Moscow to get directly involved in the Transnistrian military conflict in 1992. The Russian 14th army that secured the victory of the separatists has been maintained to this day, and after several transformations, changed its status from participant to peacekeeper. The new created separatist republic survived due to its authoritarian regime and economic interests of the Moldovan political elite in Transnistria, a territory outside of the rule of law. In addition to internal obstacles, Russian interventionism pushed by strategic interests in the region represents the main factor that has contributed to the maintenance of the conflict in the current state. Russia is driven by great power ambitions and preservation of its national security to engage in power politics in the strategic area which it calls its ‘near abroad’, of which Moldova is also a part. The main purpose of Russian intervention in Transnistria is not the region itself but Moldova. In order to prevent Chisinau from integrating in NATO and the European Union, which are Russia’s main rivals in the region, Moscow continues to support the Transnistrian separatist regime. The most important instruments of Russian interventionism in Transnistria are: the presence of military troops, political and economic support for the separatist regime and soft power politics in Moldova and Transnistria.