Transnistria (aka Transdniestria - a Russian translated version - or Transdnestr, Pridnestrove) is the long and narrow strip of Moldova bounded on the west by the Dnestr River and on the east by Ukraine. The predominantly Russian and Ukrainian population of Transnistria attempted in 1990 to secede from Moldova and has maintained a separate but unrecognized government since then, known as the Dnestr Moldovan Republic (and other variations), or in Russian as Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublika - PMR - using the city of Tiraspol as its capital. The breakaway region has looked to Russia for unofficial support.
Moldova has sought peaceful solutions to its ethnic and security problems, including offering the largely Russian population of the separatist Transdniester region broad autonomy. Bolstered by the presence of Russian troops, Transdniester continues to hold out for independence, thus denying Moldova control over significant industrial assets and its border with Ukraine.
Transdniester -- a narrow stretch of land situated along the Dniester River between Moldova proper and Ukraine -- broke away from Moldova over fears the Soviet republic would seek reunification with neighboring Romania. In 1992, Moldova and Transdniester fought a short war that ended with a Russia-mediated settlement enforced by Russian troops already stationed in the region. No country has recognized the self-proclaimed Transdniester Republic.
In early 1994, the government of the "Dnestr Republic" had armed forces of about 5,000 which included the Dnestr battalion of the Republic Guard and some 1,000 "Cossacks." As of early 1994, the Russian 14th Army (about 9,200 troops) consisted of one army headquarters, one motor rifle division, one tank battalion, one artillery regiment, and one anti-aircraft brigade. Their equipment consisted of 120 main battle tanks, 180 armored combat vehicles, and 130 artillery/multiple rocket launchers/mortars. Peacekeepers in Transnistria consisted of six airborne battalions supplied by Russia, three infantry battalions supplied by Moldova, and three airborne battalions supplied by the "Dnestr Republic."
The Russian arsenal in Transdniester belongs to the former 14th Soviet Army -- later the Russian Army -- which has been deployed in the region for decades. The 14th Army -- which changed its name to the Transdniester Operative Group of Russian Troops -- still has some 2,500 soldiers in the region, which Moscow says are necessary to guard the weapons and ammunition depots.
Under growing international pressure, Russia at a 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul signed the adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, under which it pledged to withdraw all its troops and military equipment -- estimated at 50,000 weapons and more than 40,000 tons of ammunition -- from Transdniester by 2002. Much of the armaments, as well as the ammunition, were produced before World War II. About 2,500 Russian troops remain stationed in Transdniester as of late 2003.
Transdniester has a president, parliament, army and porice forces, but, as yet it is lacking International recognition. The official languages are Russian, Moldavian, and Ukrainian. Constitutional system: Trans-Dniester Moldavian Republic is an independent democratic state. Trans-Dniester Moldavian Republic is situated between the Republic of Moldova and the Republic of Ukraine. Territorially the state encompasses areas on the left bank of the Dniester river, the town of Bendery and some villages on the right bank. The capital of Trans-Dniester Moldavian Republic is Tiraspol (population 194,000 as of 1 September 1999). The distance from Tiraspol to Odessa is 100 km., and the distance from Tiraspol to Kishinev is 70 km. Trans-Dniester Moldavian Republic has economic ties with many countries. The Republic exports its goods to 50 countries and imports from 40 countries. The Republic produces such export-oriented and well-known abroad kinds of goods as rolled steel, foundry equipment, electrical energy, cables, large electrical machinery, low-voltage gear, insulating materials, pumps, cement, furniture, textiles, footwear, ready-made garments, wine, brandy and other goods.
Transdniester separatists' have a long-time involvement in money-laundering and the manufacturing and smuggling of weapons, as well as trafficking in human beings and drugs. Secessionists in Russian-speaking Transdniester maintain control over the enclave's borders with Ukraine, across which most of the smuggling takes place. The region's leader, Igor Smirnov, and his son, Vladimir, are believed to have almost exclusive control over the lucrative criminal activities in the area.
Since the Soviet collapse, as much as half of Transdniester’s working-age population has left - to work in Russia, or in the West. But Transdniestrans seem happy to live as Russia’s lost colony in Central Europe.
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