Posts Tagged ‘Moldova’


Moldavian meetings

January 5, 2017

For the first time since 2008, a President of Moldova, Igor Dodon met with a “President of Transnistria” Vadim Krasnoselsky.

Whether it proves to be anything more than a symbolic gesture by pro-Kremlin Moldavian President Dodon remains to be seen, for his powers as president are extremely limited (which is perhaps a good thing being a robust supporter of federalising Moldova).

Moldova is a parliamentary democracy with the President having very little sway over policy or legislation.  (As such the Moldavian parliamentary elections of 2018 matter far more than the recent election of Mr Dodon as President of Moldova.)

What was known to be discussed appears to have been all rather sensible – and occurred outside of the longstanding 5+2 format which may or may not further frustrate an already frustrated process.  Nevertheless issues such as agriculture in the Dubasari district, education and diplomas, and the movement of citizens across the Dniester river were discussed.

It is said they will meet again soon with proposal to solving the issues discussed and to set timelines to implement agreed solutions.

Time, as it always does, will tell when it comes to results, particularly as President Dodon would have to have the Moldavian parliament “on side” to actually deliver much (if anything).

With regards to meetings, and perhaps worthy of note for those in Kyiv, on 26th December, 3 days after Mr Dodon’s election as president, the odious and criminal Mykola Skoryk MP (Oppo Block) quietly visited Moldova attending a Party of Socialists event to celebrate Mr Dodon’s success.


President Dodon had been a long serving Chairman of the Party of Socialists after leaving the Communist Party.  Needless to say the Party of Socialists is a robustly Russophile political entity.

That the obnoxious Mykola Skoryk would surround himself with russophiles is in keeping with his personal views (as inferred in the above link).  As regular readers will note however, it is not his russophile views that make Mykola Skoryk obnoxious.  Quite simply there is nothing about his political history, business activities, or egocentric personality that make him likable – russophile or not.

Time will tell whether Prosecutor General Lutsenko will actually get around to trying to strip Mykola Skoryk of his parliamentary immunity and prosecute him as he stated he would in September – but as yet hasn’t.  Perhaps he has forgotten, perhaps he opened his mouth before gathering sufficient evidence, or perhaps a grubby deal has been struck that he won’t now go after Mr Skoryk.  Neither Messrs Lutsenko or Skoryk have been adverse to grubby (and criminal) little deals throughout their political careers.

The question however is what was Mykola Skoryk doing at a Party of Socialists gathering for, and with, the newly invested President Dodon?  A shared russophilia is unlikely to be the answer in and of itself.  There will be more to it.

Perhaps it is a matter of insuring any cross-border “business” is not interrupted under a new presidency.  Perhaps there are now opportunities to expand “business”.  Maybe an arrangement made for an immediate “bolt hole” from Odessa should Prosecutor General Lutsenko actually put action where his rhetoric already exists.  Per chance some plotting and scheming regarding stirring up matters in “Bessarabia” occurred – as one domestic result of a Trump victory in the USA will probably be an emboldened pro-Russian political voice within Ukraine from those that have generally kept a low profile over the past 2 years – those like Mykola Skoryk.

Whatever the case, Mykola Skoryk did not become the first Ukrainian MP to personally congratulate Mr Dodon on his election simply because of a shared russophilia and as Odessa shares a border with Moldova he thought he’d “drop by”.  He is hardly otherwise a regular face at the Party of Socialists gatherings.

That Mr Skoryk has said very little about his trip probably means that more questions should be asked.


Proportionate responses to events in Moldova – Ukraine

October 31, 2016

Following polling on 30th October, the Moldavian presidential elections will go to a second round – this time a head to head between pro-EU Maya Sandu and Kremlin friendly Igor Dodon.

Mr Dodon received 48.7% of the votes in the first round, with Ms Sandu garnering 37.96% – by far the highest percentage of the pro-EU contenders.

The electoral questions now presented are whether the pro-EU votes that went to other candidates will consolidate around Ms Sandu or not, and also the extent of voter turnout for the second round.

The first round demographics displayed a notably higher turnout of both grey-haired and also female voters.  Ms Sandu is more likely to benefit from a far higher turn out of young men than Mr Dodon, if they can be encouraged to vote (either in Moldova or abroad where so many work).

During his campaigning Mr Dodon has made comment regarding Crimea – noting that de jure it may be part of Ukraine as far as international recognition goes, but de facto it is Russia.

Igor Dodon

Igor Dodon

Such statements calling into question the territorial integrity of another nation, and a neighbour, may or may not be campaign rhetoric – and a reader may well ponder the response of Mr Dodon should a campaigning/electioneering Ukrainian politician state that de jure Transnistria may be part of Moldova as far as international recognition is concerned, but de facto it is Russia.

Needless to say such comment entering the public realm by a presidential candidate of a neighbouring nation has not gone unnoticed by either the Ukrainian leadership or the Ukrainian media.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry duly summonsed its Moldavian Ambassador to Kyiv  “for consultations”.

Meanwhile, Moldavian Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Galbur made a very clear apology “I would not like to comment on the statements of the participants of the election campaign.  At the same time, referring to this specific case, I would like to express regret to our partners in Kyiv, our Ukrainian partners, to all citizens of this country, including those who live in our country, who have Ukrainian origin.  The expressed position does not correspond to the official position of the Republic of Moldova. We clearly recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of neighboring Ukraine within the borders recognized at the international level, do not recognize the annexation of all territories, regardless of whether we are talking about Ukraine or other countries.  Such a situation we have in Georgia.  Moreover, we too are suffering from a serious territorial crisis.  I do not know, therefore, those who made such a declaration, if would be nice to hear from officials from Ukraine, Transnistria belongs to the Russian Federation? I’m just sorry.”

So be it.  We currently suffer a public arena in which there is seemingly no limit to the amount of spurious, or misleading, or absolute bollocks that can be uttered by the political class in attempts to sway public opinion – public apologies will probably become more and more necessary, albeit they probably will not come when owed.  Kudos therefore to Andrei Galbur for such a swift and clear statement on behalf of the Moldavian State.

But what if Mr Dodon wins and becomes President Dodon – which he very well might?

There are mutterings within the Ukrainian media that Ivan Hnatsyhyn, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Moldova should be recalled.

So should he?

Clearly the recalling of the Ukrainian Ambassador to the Russian Federation in 2014 was very much in order.  That a temporary Charges d’Affairs now heads the diplomatic missions of Ukraine within Russia is quite right, for it signals a formal downgrading of diplomatic ties.  Nevertheless Ukrainian diplomatic missions throughout the Russian Federation continue to function – and so they should for embassies and consulates do not exist simply to hand out consular assistance to its citizenry, nor for Ambassadors to enjoy erudite chats over canapes and “drinkies” on an organised and revolving hosting calendar sponsored by turn-taking national taxpayers.

Even as President Dodon, and even if he maintains his position publicly regarding his statements about Crimea, that is still not the official position of Moldova.  Moldova is a parliamentary democracy by constitution.  It is therefore parliament that adopts the official Moldavian position.  (That said, Ukraine is a parliamentary-presidential democracy, though a reader (and a citizen) could be forgiven if they perceived matters the other way around.)

Having a controversial and problematic individual as President is survivable – as the Czech Republic clearly displays.

Therefore if a Kremlin friendly President Dodon is the fate awaiting Moldova, does it pay to recall the Ukrainian Ambassador, downgrading the diplomatic mission there to that of a temporary Charges d’Affairs as occurred with Russia over his personal comment/position?

Perhaps – but removing emotion from the equation, with a very Kremlin friendly President Dodon, does it not pay to have an Ambassador in Moldova to “manage things” as they inevitably become far more “testy” and ‘prickly” – not to mention probably witnessing an increase in covert action too?

To be sure the Romanians and the SIE are hardly likely to lessen their interest in matters Moldavian under a President Dodon – quite the opposite.

Ergo, with a longer term and less emotional view, (and the game is indeed long) rather than retreating from Moldova if a President Dodon does come to pass, no differently than the predictable Romanian response, is it not wise to retain as much presence and influence “on plot” as there currently is?  (Perhaps even increase it – one way or another).

If a President Dodon begins to become problematic – which he very well may – there will be a lot of Moldavian “people” wanting to “talk” privately and discreetly to neighbours and western “friends”.

“Drinkies” and canapes, official appointments/visits (and “unofficial” chats) provide for a top level communication channel directly to the MFA (unlike the spooks naturally).  Recalling the Ukrainian Ambassador and downgrading relations to that of a temporary Charge d’Affair may well see many of those anticipated communications and “chats” being held with others instead.

Thus, on balance, if a President Dodon is soon upon us, then unless the official Moldavian position shifts significantly and adopts his personal and current electioneering rhetoric, it is perhaps not only disproportionate, but indeed foolish to recall the Ukrainian Ambassador.  There are other levers to employ when showing displeasure.

The inauguration of a President Dodon, it that is what is to be, probably requires a greater rather than lesser presence.


Planes, trains and automobiles – Odessa

August 4, 2016

Although it is a tale that probably hasn’t had the impact expected from Misha Saakashvili inspired events, and despite some highly questionable deals regarding the new Odessa International Airport Terminal between the Saakashvili administration and dodgy businessmen, matters regarding Odessa airport certainly appear to be going the right way.

Upon arrival, Governor Saakashvili managed to force out the Ihor Kolomoisky aligned (and thus MAU airline friendly) bureaucrat that effectively – indeed very effectively – managed to preserve the almost 100% monopoly Mr Kolomoisky’s MAU had over flights into and from Odessa airport – both national and international flights.

Having then made Odessa airport “Open Skies” – Odessa and Lviv being the only two Ukrainian airports that are currently – several new international and a new internal carriers have appeared at Odessa airport.  The 3rd August seeing yet another carrier moving one step closer to arrival.  Air Berlin may very well be flying Odessa to Paderborn from 2017.

The slowness of the story naturally has gathered little media impact – as slow stories generally don’t.  Nevertheless Governor Saakashvili can count this achievements as a win, for to be sure if he hadn’t taken on the challenge nothing would have changed.

However, his statements regarding the commissioning of the new Odessa terminal have been many.  It was first due to open in March 2016 – then the autumn – and now the year end.  The terminal has been built and the external building works completed.  There is a watertight finished exterior.

Internally however, the terminal is no more progressed today than it was when the foundations were first poured years ago.  There is a tremendous amount of work to do if it is to open by the year end – thus to be blunt, it seems very unlikely unless Odessa is given the Eurovision hosting city title which may then add some urgency.

Further, there is little point to a new terminal without necessary runway and associated groundworks – and the runway, like all Ukrainian runways is owned by the State as all are designated dual purpose civil/military.  Ergo Gov UA will have to find the cash for the runway works to make the new terminal anything more than an interesting structure.

Nevertheless, the new airport terminal is certainly far more advanced than the $4.5 billion road from Odessa to Reni (and beyond into Romania).  This is a project that will take several years – presuming the funding over those years flows.  That it is a necessary infrastructure link between the southwest of the oblast and the city perhaps is often eclipsed by the international theme of an infrastructure link connecting Romania to Odessa.  It is, to be clear, as much a political road as it is an economic road.

However, whilst the Governor and Air Berlin will dominate the local media headlines, wily parliamentarian (and uncrowned Tsar of Bessarabia/southwestern Odessa oblast) Anton Kisse was quietly progressing infrastructure projects of his own within his fiefdom.

On 2nd August Mr Kisse, together with Ukrainian Ambassador to Moldova Ivan Gnatishin, Vice-Chairman of the Odessa Regional Council Yury Dimchoglo, and Vladislav Fateev of Ukrzaliznytsia, met with Deputy Minister of Transport and Road Economy of Moldova Sergey Bucataru, and director of the Moldavian Railways, Yuri Topal.


The aim of the meeting, to rehabilitate the Berezino (Ukraine) to Bessarabyaska (Moldova) rail track and return it to former glories as part of the regional infrastructure.

This 16 kilometer section of forsaken rail track would benefit both Moldova, de facto Transnistria through which it passes, and Odessa oblast – predominantly Ismail.  The port of Ismail, as well as the Tatutinsky region both likely to benefit from the ease of moving Moldavian grains for export, and also the movement of other goods and people.

It would also create another rail link to Bucharest and Sophia, changing at the Moldavian capital, Chisinau – and given the high ethnic concentrations from both Bulgarian and Romanian nations in the southwest of Odessa oblast, it is no bad thing for the local community either.

Matters seem likely to progress in September, and to be sure the 14 kilometers of track in Ukraine, and 2 kilometers in Moldova, would not take long to bring to working order.  Perhaps 6 weeks.

The estimated cost is about $10 million – which the EBRD has stated historically that it would be willing to fund – indeed it has said so on several occasions in the past.  Perhaps the only question is whether they are still willing to fund it – or not.

Undoubtedly, should funding be given, this rail link will be completed long before the Odessa-Reni road.  The question is whether it will be completed before Odessa Airport Terminal (which should have already been completed).  The answer, most likely will be – yes.


The spy in the sky – Romania in Ukrainian airspace

April 24, 2016

The 23rd April saw the 25th anniversary of Hobart Earle as conductor of the Odessa Philharmonic and also Prokofiev’s 125th birthday.  Ergo the evening of 22nd April saw a passionate performance of Rachmaninoff’s 3rd by the fabulous Vazgen Vartanian, followed by the Odessa Philharmonic paying due homage to Prokofiev by way of the Scythian Suite in all its pagan glory.

Such events always draw an erudite and educated audience, among which happened to be the Romanian Consular General.  Such occasions are hardly conducive to a private chat regarding Black Sea security issues, but they are conducive to arranging such things.

Clearly security in and around the Black Sea is a matter that concerns both Ukraine and Romania as well as many others – and naturally Odessa features prominently.

Indeed the Ukrainian President has just returned from an official visit to Bucharest – one of far too few visits.

Undeniably Ukrainian and Romanian relations could and should be far better than they currently are across every sphere of life.  That said the meeting of the two national leaders in Bucharest was not without results – for why meet otherwise?

Long has this blog, albeit occasionally, mentioned the continued espionage activities of Ukraine in Romania and Romania in Ukraine.  There are occasional jailings, such as those in 2010 of two alleged Ukrainian spooks in Romania, but generally such business is carried out as it should be – discreetly.

The Moldavian SIS, Romanian SIE and Ukrainian SBU do what all neighbours do – engage in espionage against each other.  They also do so over common interests, or perhaps better stated, common ground – that of Transnestria – which holds within concerns for them all.

Events after EuroMaidan/Revolution of Dignity in 2014, and the appearance of Potemkin “Bessarabian” groups in Odessa Oblast hostile to the authorities in Kyiv, Ukrainian unity, and enjoying clear support from the Kremlin and swivel-eyed political loons from Bulgaria and Moldova, are not just a Ukrainian concern.

Both Moldova and Romania will want to poke around within and without such entities and the local communities they seek to influence, as well as remain aware of local Kremlin subterfuge, espionage. This notwithstanding  any military and spook activity within the Transnistrain enclave.

That is the nature of things.  It is to be, and is, expected – particularly so when the SBU as of the time of writing admits to still having only re-vetted about 50% of its staff since Kremlin shenanigans were taken to an entirely new kinetic level in 2013/14 and beyond.

That there remains a significant degree of Kremlin infiltration should be taken for granted.  Indeed after numerous vetting sweeps through all Ukrainian institutions, let alone a half completed sweep of the SBU, it should still be taken for granted that Kremlin infiltration remains.  Infiltration should always be taken for granted.

No doubt the CI people in Romania, Moldova, and all the post-Warsaw Pact nations (and beyond) would admit that they too remain infiltrated by the Kremlin some 25 years after the collapse of the Communist collective space.  Indeed, just because a spook or a spook network may have been identified by CI, it doesn’t mean they will do anything overt or covert about it immediately – if ever.


All of which brings about the recent events surrounding a Romanian Diamond 42 aircraft operating out of Lasi airport carrying out overflights over Transnistria on 4th, 17th and 22nd April, and straying/entering into Ukrainian airspace in doing so.

17th April

17th April

22nd April

22nd April

Ukraine will be aware of the Romanian SIE being particularly active in the south of Odessa Oblast.  The Romanian SIE will know that Ukraine knows too.  This is not an incident as far as either Romania or Ukraine is concerned that will put a strain upon relations.  There will not be major huffing and puffing, nor testosterone induced chest thumping within the Ukrainian intelligence community demanding some form of robust response.

Ukraine has made no public comment regarding these latest incidents, and it is unclear if the Ukrainian air force reacted to such incursions of Ukrainian airspace.

Whether or not diplomatic noises have been made privately who knows?

It may or may not be that Romania will now share any gathered intelligence with Ukraine having seemingly entered Ukrainian airspace uninvited.  Then again, perhaps it was subject to a tacit approval, or an officially blind Ukrainian eye in the expectation of shared intelligence material.  Again, who knows?

More than a year ago the blog, both in writing and at “closed door” round table gatherings began to make reference toward creating a far more robust triangular relationship between Warsaw, Bucharest and Kyiv – for to be blunt, those 3 capitals (with the exception of the Baltic states) hold a particularly sharp view of Kremlin action in Ukraine (and beyond).  Both Bucharest and Warsaw perceive a strong Ukraine as part of a solid defence of their own nations.

Naturally The Kremlin and the quasi-authorities of Transnistria will proclaim “concern”, or perhaps even “alarm” over this incident.

In order to put on a display of displeasure – or not – The Kremlin may decide to recommence the flights of the (officially unarmed) “peacekeeping” helicopter squadron based in Tiraspol, (under Protocol 1 of the July 1992 agreement), the flights of which have long been suspended.

A wandering Russian MiG helicopter from the Transnestrian “peacekeeping squadron” into Ukrainian airspace could have many different consequences, but would have to be met with some sort of official response from Ukraine be it publicly or in private.  Moldova too would have little choice but to react in some official manner should a “peacekeeping” helicopter wander over its territory uninvited.

As yet, not differently to Ukraine, there seems to be no public response from the Kremlin over the incident despite the undoubted lamenting and wailing by those quasi-officials in Tiraspol.

The incident nevertheless perhaps provides yet more weight for the argument that Kyiv and Bucharest should aim to continue to strengthen bilateral communication and cooperation far beyond that envisaged in any current regional or bilateral agreements.  It is surely in the interests of both nations to do so.


A glance at Transnistria

January 3, 2016

Recently your author has made a few trips to the Moldavian capital Chișinău due to a necessity to blow the accumulated dust from weighty tomes of historical documents – the documents sought having little to do with Moldova, but rather Romania of a century (and more) ago.

It is possible to drive from Odessa to Moldova either directly, avoiding Transnistria, or going through Transnistria.  If ever there is need of a reminder that despite a quarter of a century of gross political and economic mismanagement within an independent Ukraine it has nonetheless progressed, then a bumbling about in Transnistria very quickly provides such evidence, with Transnistria offering a step back in time of 50+ years in almost every sense.

The Transnistrian border guards are always good for conversation too (albeit driven by poor attempts at intelligence gathering rather than genuine conversation).  They always ask after Odessa and how things are politically and economically, and as a matter of politeness the reciprocal questions are asked of Transnistria.  According to one of your author’s favourite border guards, very soon Transnistria’s economic woes will be over – for they have discovered gold and diamonds on the territory!


It naturally followed that your author asked how to gain a Transnistrian passport in time to share in this newly discovered and soon to be developed wealth.  Sadly however, the response was that it simply wasn’t possible for just anybody to gain a Transnistrian passport, and thus there way little chance of sharing in the forthcoming financial bonanza.

Perhaps over forthcoming trips to the archives in Chișinău it may be possible to negotiate some movement in the friendly border guard’s position?  After all, historically Transnistria has relied upon Odessa as a legitimate and illegitimate route for trade in and out of the territory – quid pro quo in sharing in this new found wealth?

However, with Moldova already having a FTA and Visa-free travel with the EU, and Ukraine’s DCFTA with the EU now being in force, (as well as being subject to Kremlin sanctions simultaneously as a result) and with Visa-free travel with the EU likely to come into effect before the end of 2016 (probably some time between June and September along with Kosovo, Georgia and Turkey) there is going to be a far more robust adherence of regulatory norms to which Ukraine is now legally obligated with regard to EU expectations/requirements – which will have an effect upon Transnistria.

Only the naive, or the retarded, will lay claim to an end of the legitimate trade between Transnistria and Odessa/Ukraine – though they may rightly raise the issue of tariffs now being more effectively applied than have historically been less than stringently applied.  It would be equally naive, or retarded, to claim that illicit trade will cease too – particularly that of the organised typed that will simply find the weakest links in border management/patrols.  It will however, undoubtedly become more difficult than has traditionally been the case.

Despite the (fanstasy) claims of your author’s favourite Transnistrian border guard of new found gold and diamond resources, clearly there will be economic repercussions upon a Kremlin subsidy dependent Transnistrian economy – which will in turn leads to questions about any future 5+2 negotiations over the Transnistrian territory, and just how much more “interesting” if not “prickly” they will become – albeit such negotiations take place without any serious expectations of ever coming close to any effective settlement.


Meanwhile back in Bessarabia…..

July 30, 2015

It has been quite some time since “Bessarabia” was last mentioned here – quite simply because the Potemkin manifestation hasn’t really manifested (outside of a few websites and an extremely small number of people’s imaginations and/or aspirations for 15 minutes of fame).

Nevertheless, a “veche” took place in the Kominternovsky region of Odessa Oblast yesterday, the outcome of which saw Aleksandr Yankov, a former senior Oblast prosecutor, nominated “Governor” of Bessarabia.  That appointment being backed by the “leader of the Bessarabian parliament” Vera Shevchenko – who didn’t actually attend the “veche”.

Naturally anti-Poroshenko and anti-Saakashvili statements were made by the newly appointed “Governor”, which actually defies the current political reality for the tiny part of Odessa Oblast that was once historically part of Bessarabia – At least it defies political reality to anybody who understands the politics of the Oblast.

Anton Cisse

Anton Cisse

Regardless of holding the office of President and Governor respectively, political and business power in that tiny southwestern most part of the Oblast is actually wielded by Anton Cisse MP (who is also leader of the ethnic Bulgarians there).  His influence in that part of the Oblast is (almost) omnipresent – unlike that of the President or Governor.

Anton Cisse is no political ally of President Poroshenko, and therefore by extension is no political ally of Governor Saakashvili – however he is not stupid either.  Indeed he is nobody’s fool.

Mr Cisse is quite capable of looking across the border to Transnistria and seeing what a basket case it is, particularly economically.  As a businessman first and foremost (and a politician secondly) there is simply no gain for him in any form of separatist movement within his stronghold that would move his patch toward an economic disaster area whilst also eschewing it from Odessa, its infrastructure, and its wealth.

Neither would he take kindly to his small fiefdom becoming a second devastated Donbas for the sake of an illusionary Bessarabia.

Certainly he is not about to pooh-pooh, Governor Saakashvili’s plan to begin a new major road from Odessa to Reni, and thus into his fiefdom.

Thus, no matter what sympathies Mr Cisse may have (or not) for the Kremlin inspired “Bessarabia project” Mr Cisse, and his very loyal ethic Bulgarian constituents, are not about to sanction, encourage, give any meaningful support to, or lead the charge for, an independent/autonomous/ Bessarabia any time soon.

Without Mr Cisse’s overt and energetic support, Bessarabia will remain a historical entry in history books, a (very poorly funded) Kremlin destabilisation project, a fantasy in the heads of a few deluded individuals and content within a couple of websites.

Further, it gives the Ukrainian SBU, Moldavian SIS and Romanian SIE intelligence services all the more reason to simultaneously be poking about in Mr Cisse’s backyard a little more forcefully/overtly than usual – something that will not sit particularly well for very long.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see the results of the local elections at the end of October – perhaps “Bessarabian candidates” will take control of  Kominternovsky in its entirety, or a village somewhere within?  Then again, perhaps not.


Meanwhile in Transnistria – mobilization

July 21, 2015

Just across the border from Odessa lies Transnistria, the Kremlin sponsored enclave within Moldova.

Unsurprisingly, considering regional events, it appears that Transnistria is about to mobilize, apparently following a decree issued by “President” Yevgeny Shevchuk.

This mobilization, it is claimed, will attract between 5000 and 7000 18 – 27 years olds, as well as an enrollment campaign of previously served personnel of about 80,000, from a total population of approximately 500,000.  Ergo about 17.5% of the enclave.


An interesting development, although it remains to be seen just how effective any such mobilization will be, or how long it will last considering the dire state of the Transnistrian economy that is already overly reliant upon Kremlin handouts.

Whether the thinking behind this decision is to slow the efforts of the less than robust western facing Moldavian government on its continued European course, or whether it is a Kremlin driven attempt to make Ukraine redeploy some of its eastern forces, or if it is simply to cause social unrest in Moldova, Transnistria and Odessa’s border area with the Transnistrian enclave, thus providing a Kremlin inspired “crisis” that it then will seek to “solve” on its own onerous terms for both Ukraine and Moldova remains to be seen.

However, with the Kremlin stealing more territory in Georgia, insuring an up-tick in violent contact across the entire front line in eastern Ukraine, and now this decreed mobilization in Transnistria that will only occur with The Kremlin blessing (and probably upon its instruction and financing) all within a week, it is perhaps time to wonder just when the much repeated rhetoric of “additional costs” heard from European/western leaders regarding belligerent,  malevolent and obstructionist Kremlin policy will actually incur any additional costs.

Perhaps it is necessary for the Kremlin to stoke tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh too?

The rhetoric of “no spheres of influence” forever spewing forth from the western leaders, will appear more than a little empty if The Kremlin continues to influence the region without significant cost through entirely illegitimate and aggressive acts.

Is it good policy to treat Kremlin led events in Ukraine separately from Kremlin led events in Georgia and now Transnistria, or is it good policy to see them all as regionally related and Kremlin led, thus providing for the possibility of telegraphed reaction for any and all events in the region having “costs”?


The next Potemkin political manifestation – Odessa

April 7, 2015

A few days ago, the following tweet was tweeted:

For those unaware, a very brief and superficial history of Bessarabia follows:

It was born of the Russian Empire’s annexation of part of the Ottoman Empire during the Ottoman-Russian war of 1806 – 1812, and subsequently became a Russian Oblast from 1812 – 1871.  From 1871 – 1917, Bessarabia became a Governorate (Guberniya) of the Russian Empire until it was dissolved in the December of 1917 when Bessarabia became part of the Moldavian Democratic Republic.

Approximately 70% of what was Bessarabian territory during the Russian Empire remains within the territory of modern day Moldova.  The other approximately 30% (Izmail, Bolgrad etc) is within what is now Odessa Oblast, and thus Ukrainian territory.

In short, a few centuries of Ottoman rule where Bessarabia didn’t exist by way of name, followed by 105 years of Russian Empirical rule which saw the christening of Bessarabia by way of name, and ad hoc, robust spats with Romania over the territory, followed by 98 years – and counting – of mainly Moldavian, partly Tranistrian for a few decades if you de facto recognise Transnistria, and also Ukrainian governance over a small part of the historical territory.


Therein is a canned history of what was Bessarabia.

Yesterday saw the “official launch” of the People’s Council of Bessarabia in the Tarutinskaya Rayon of Odessa.  The People’s Council of Bessarabia website, registered in Moldova, Transnistria, Odessa, Ukraine, Moscow also came on-line.

v_odesskoy_oblasti_sozdali_narodnuyu_radu_bessarabii_6030Photo via Igor Markov’s “Timer”

As the historical concept of “Novorussiya” failed miserably to take hold in Odessa when The Kremlin forcibly intervened in Ukraine a year ago – it appears another historical dead horse called Bessarabia is about to be resurrected and publicly flogged in the hope it moves in the very westernmost regions of Ukraine (and within Moldova too).  Attempting to destabilise two nations for the price of one historical resurrection in such hard economic times, for The Kremlin, currently makes good fiscal sense.

There were about 100 people present at the launch of the People’s Council of Bessarabia.  Naturally there were journalists and a few deputies from local councils, whether in support, or whether to gauge first hand what the People’s Council of Bessarabia is all about should they have to confront it, remains unclear – but time will tell as it always does.

But there were also some “interesting people” bordering upon “persons of interest” in attendance.

Firstly, from Odessa, the pro-Kremlin social media/website promoting journalist Artyom Buzila was sat on the People’s Council top table – indicating perhaps that he has moved across into politics per se.

Dmitry Soin, the rabidly pro-Kremlin creator of the “Breakthrough/Proriv” Transnistrian party was also present – although after a falling out with the Transnistrian authorities, Mr Soin is now residing elsewhere.  Leader of the Moldavian political party “Patriots of Moldova”, Mr Mikhail Garbuz, and former Moldavian MP Grigory Petrenko also went, with the Governor of Gagauzia, Mihail Formuzal, speaking at the event.

From Bulgaria, politician/journalist Velizar Enchev, Eugene Velkova, head of the European Communication Centre Bulgaria, and Svyatoslav Proynov, leader of the youth movement within the Bulgarian anti-EU party “Attack” were there.

Lastly of note, the Chairman of the Union of Transnistrians, Dmytro Zatuliveter, who stated “Our mission is that Bessarabia is granted the status of national-cultural autonomy.  Our peoples must be adequately represented in the political and economic life of Ukraine, our community should influence the decisions that affect our region.” – making no mention that approximately 70% of what was Bessarabia lies outside of the territory of Ukraine.

Thus, Odessa (and Ukraine) is confronted by two Kremlin inspired/conspired political projects within the Oblast.  As written about some time ago, there is “Operation Porto Franko” which seeks to separate the city under the guise of a free port, and now in the west of the Oblast, after the abject failure of Novorussiya to take hold, is reborn yet another historical Trojan Horse – this Potemkin political entity being the People’s Council of Bessarabia.

Over time, how much traction this will actually get within the ethic Bulgarian communities in towns like Izmail and Bolgrad is difficult to say – but its something worth keeping an eye on.

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