For a while, Ukraine was US favourite in Eastern Europe in their attempt to limit the Russian sphere of influence. The Orange Revolution did not bring Ukraine in that stage so that it’s Euro—Atlantic evolution is irreversible. Moreover, the Gazprom army of Putin and Medvedev obtained, for a lower price of gas, the capitulation of Ukraine in front of Russia and the extention of the presence of the Russian fleet in Crimeea until 2042. Thus, any integration of Ukraine in NATO or EU in the next 31 years seems not reasonable. The Westernisation of Ukraine remains from now on a nice, polite, diplomatic and convenient speech…
In those conditions, a smaller country, unsignificant for Americans until recently, had to take the place of Ukraine in the American-Russian geo-political game: the Republic of Moldova. This reorientation of Americans coincided with the international efforts Romania did for raising the awareness about the need to bring the Republic of Moldova inside the European Union and thus, solve the Transnistrian conflict.
Besides the internal political problems in Bessarabia (an important part of the sovietised population votes for communits), the frozen conflict from the thiny region of Transnistria stops the Republic of Moldova from its European integration.
The negotiotiations on the conflict should be managed in the 5+2 format that suppose the negotiations of the two parts in the conflict: Chişinăul and Tiraspol, three mediators: Russia, Ukraine, OSCE and two observators: USA and EU.
The fact that many European leaders have asked Russia for the withdowal of its troops from Transnistria and the replay of the negotiations, while the American vice-president Joe Biden told Friday in Chişinău that in his discussions in Moscow he raised the Transnistrian problem may seem encouraging. Biden also said that “America supports a settlement but not any settlement, a settlement that preserves Moldova’s sovereignty and Moldova’s territorial integrity. Transnistria lies within Moldova and the people of Moldova deserve an end to this dispute that has divided this country for far too long”.
This American and European message comes to give hope for the Government in Chişinău to continue its democratic reforms and raise the living conditions on the right bank of the Nistru river, fact that could be a good incentive and support for the reintegration of the Republic of Moldova.
In October 2009, during his visit in Bucharest, the American vice-president was even more explicit. He argued that the claim of Russia to have its sphere of influence is a preconception from XIXth century. Joe Biden has encouraged the Central Europe states to help the ex-soviet republics to demolish the authoritarian regimes and free themselves from the Moscow influence.
Although the signal is positive, I am not convinced that this firm position of the US will lead to any reasonable agreement on the frozen conflict in the near future. Russia will accept only an agreement that is in its interest not a reasonable agreement for all parties.
Few months ago, George Friedman, the director of Stratfor Agency considered that it is hard to believe that Russia will leave from Nistru River.
Moldova’s separatist region of Transnistria is in Russian control (military, economic and politic). Russians could agree to renounce of Transnistria only if there will be a federalization of Moldova with Chișinău and Tiraspol equal subjects and with a government in Chișinău that will actually be a puppet of Moscow. Such a solution is unacceptable for the Republic of Moldova for the EU and for Americans.
So, if the west wants Russia to take back its troops from Nistru what is the exchange?