Transdniestria’s desire to be absorbed into Russia comes as no surprise, just as the desires of Moldova itself seem to be leaning toward a reunification with Romania. While these shifts are interesting, the real question comes more in the form of “why now?” This breakaway region, with Russian forces on their soil and a large Russian population, has only been able to ask for this for the last 20 years. More to the point, they’ve had the opportunity to play this card since at least 2008, or even earlier in 1992, when the region signed an armistice with Moldova after a relatively brief but bitter conflict. While technically part of Moldova, it is a region that has been left alone to govern itself since 1992, and this again begs the question of timing.
One of the recognized options for Russia, during this crisis in Ukraine and in the reformation and expansion of the former empire, has been thought to be the exploitation of the “periphery” of Ukraine and the other Baltic states. Using these “breakaway” regions, or states, it is felt by some in the intelligence community that the large populations of former Russian people would serve as the basis for the reincorporation of the region under the auspices of Russia. So, in answer to the earlier question, why now? Well, in my opinion, it is because the Russians are on a roll, and so far, nobody has discouraged this behavior with any really painful sanctions against Putin or Russia. The EU has too many economic ties to Russia, while the US is simply too distant to these issues to provide much comfort in places like Ukraine or Moldova. At some point, though, there will be a line drawn. Hopefully it won’t be too little or too late, otherwise, we’ll be back to doing the same business we did from 1946 until 1991, or worse, dealing with the same issues as those arising in 1939 and ending in 1945. Either of these options is unsettling, and therefore, our current events have that eery feeling of being a harbinger of more bad things to come. ~ Michael S. Pauley