Table of Contents

The Moldova-Transdniestria conflict is more benign than the other post-Soviet conflicts. There is a minimal threat of violence and there have been virtually no casualties since fighting ended in 1992. In many ways this is less a conflict than an extremely contentious political dispute.

Unlike in Abkhazia, ordinary people travel back and forth and trade freely with one another across the divide. The two economies are semi-integrated. A postal agreement means that a letter sent from Tiraspol can travel to London or Paris, bearing a Moldovan stamp bought with Transdniestrian roubles. The Moldovan soccer team plays its international matches in the gleaming stadium outside Tiraspol. One Transdniestrian interlocutor asserted that the two sides had signed 187 agreements although many of them were not being observed. “A de facto confederation exists,” said the official. “There is a basis of agreements. They only need to be implemented.” In late 2018, six out of eight confidence-building measures in a so-called Package of Eight had been agreed on, bringing the two sides closer together in several fields.

Moscow shares the international consensus that Transdniestria must be granted a special status within a reunited Moldova.

The position of Russia, the patron of Transdniestria, is also more flexible than with Abkhazia. Moscow shares the international consensus that Transdniestria must be granted a special status within a reunited Moldova—although it has different views on key details of what that deal should look like. This stands in contrast to Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states in 2008. That this move was not replicated vis-à-vis Transdniestria—something that many Russian parliamentarians advocated—was quietly resented in the region and has led to greater convergence between Moldova and Transdniestria.

A final settlement still looks far off, however. As in the other conflicts, a dispute over security is an impediment, although this is not such a grave issue as in Abkhazia or northern Cyprus. Moldova’s constitution commits it to “permanent neutrality,” precluding it from membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and thereby removing an argument that Russia employs in Georgia and Ukraine. The Russian troop contingent stays in Transdniestria in contravention of international law, being there without host-country consent. However, it has been reduced to about 1,500 men, the vast majority of whom are believed to be local Transdniestrians wearing Russian uniforms. The number of Russian soldiers on Transdniestrian soil as an occupying force may number as few as one hundred men.

Further progress depends to a large degree on how the two main international actors, the OSCE and EU, can build on the technical and economic agreements they have helped facilitate in the last few years. Thus far these agreements have not meant much to large parts of Transdniestrian society, which still exists in semi-isolation. Most Transdniestrians would benefit from a greater international presence on the ground, in particular to work on reforming the local economy. This would also further the de facto integration of the territory with Moldova.

Transdniestria map


The Transdniestria conflict is defined by geography, history, and a contest among elites rather than ethnicity. Indeed, the de facto state of Transdniestria formally represents itself as an alternative Moldovan republic and declares Moldovan to be one of its three languages, alongside Russian and Ukrainian.1

The formation of a breakaway territory in Transdniestria, often referred to as PMR from its Russian initials, dates back to the late Soviet period. A thin curling strip of land 400 kilometers long mostly adjoining the Dniester River, the region is known as Transnistria in Moldovan, denoting territory on the far (eastern and left) bank of the river. Transdniestria is the spelling used by international mediators. The territory has spent parts of its history with its parent state, right-bank Moldova, and some periods separately.

In 1940, under the Secret Protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact agreed with Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union seized Bessarabia and northern Bukovina west of the Dniester from Romania, apportioning the southern part of Bessarabia to Ukraine and creating a new Moldovan Soviet Republic in the northern part. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Nazi-allied Romania reconquered the territories. They were recaptured by the Red Army in 1944. The Soviet republic of Moldova was formed, comprising territories on both sides of the Dniester River. Each side has very different perspectives on these dark pages of modern history. Speaking very crudely, on the right bank of the Dniester they tend to recall that their grandfathers were killed by Stalin, while on the other that they were the victims of Adolf Hitler. Transdniestria enthusiastically celebrates the Soviet Union’s victory in the Great Patriotic War. It also commemorates the glorious campaigns of the eighteenth century Russian general Count Alexander Suvorov, whose statue stands in the center of Tiraspol.2

The Transdniestria conflict is defined by geography, history, and a contest among elites rather than ethnicity.

After 1945, the Soviet leadership constantly harbored suspicions toward right-bank Moldova, rather as it did toward the Baltic states. By contrast, Transdniestria was a new, mainly Russian-speaking, and fully Soviet formation designed to be the industrial powerhouse of what was otherwise a poor agricultural republic. As Charles King writes, “In demographic and economic terms, the [Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic] gradually developed as two republics in one: a largely rural, Moldovan, and indigenous population in Bessarabia employed primarily in agriculture and light agro-industry; and a more urban, Slavic, and generally immigrant population in Transnistria working in Soviet-style heavy industry.”3

This made for a republic with two competing elites on each side of the river, even as the wider population still had much in common. The right-bank Moldovan intellectual elite was influenced by Romania. Even though their language was formally called “Moldovan” and written in the Cyrillic script, it was almost identical to Romanian. The left-bank elite exercised disproportionate political influence over the rest of Moldova up until the 1980s. Members of this group shared Moscow’s agenda of Russification and prioritizing the Russian language, and their successors still refer to themselves as part of “the Russian World.” This division translated into a competition for economic resources and favors from Moscow. To this day, the two parties to the conflict talk in derogatory terms about one another. In Chișinău, Transdniestria is referred to as a retrograde neo-Soviet regime. In Tiraspol, one de facto official disparaged right-bank Moldova as a dysfunctional state, calling reunification efforts “attempts to attach us to a broken car that is not moving.”

Abkhaz border Tiraspol, Transdniestria. House of Soviets parliament building, with a bust of Lenin outside.

(Photo courtesy of the author.)

At the height of perestroika, in parallel to similar events in Georgia and Azerbaijan, anti-Soviet nationalists in Chișinău asserted their Moldovan identity and loosened ties with Moscow. The smaller pro-Moscow elite in Transdniestria made counter-moves, declaring its own autonomy and reaffirming loyalty to Moscow. On August 31, 1989, the newly empowered Supreme Soviet of Moldova adopted three language laws, which prioritized Moldovan as the state language of the republic. This was strongly resisted in Transdniestria as an attack on their rights that would render Russophone cadres ineligible for top jobs. Tiraspol doubled down on its support for existing Soviet structures and policies. The two sides began to separate. The dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991 raised the stakes by making Moldova an independent state and the Transdniestrians separatists by default.4

The Transdniestrian conflict was mercifully shorter than the wars in the Caucasus. It lasted two months and displaced many fewer people. Yet around 1,000 people lost their lives, and it caused deep traumas in a small region. Neither side had a proper military force. The intervention of the Russian Fourteenth Army and its commander General Alexander Lebed on behalf of the Transdniestrians was decisive. A ceasefire agreement in July 1992 cemented the status quo and introduced a joint Moldovan, Russian and Transdniestrian peacekeeping force to police the new de facto boundary. The Fourteenth Army, which numbered almost 10,000 soldiers in 1992, was reclassified as the Organizational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF) and has gradually been reduced in size since then.

Russia has had multiple policies toward the territory. In the 1990s, nationalist and extremist elements who opposed then president Boris Yeltsin in turn supported Transdniestria, seeing it as a natural ally and an anti-Western project. They worked with a group headed by Igor Smirnov, a former factory director and Transdniestria’s first president, and other men like security boss Vladimir Antyufeyev, a former KGB chief in Latvia. (This alliance reformed in 2014 in support of the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, where Antufeyev briefly served as an official.) At the same time, the conventional Russian political establishment has balanced support for the de facto authorities in Tiraspol with often close relations with Chișinău. Moscow has sought alliances with a succession of Moldovan leaders, including the current president, Igor Dodon.

As in Abkhazia and Cyprus, the patron-client relationship is not always smooth. Leaders in Tiraspol have often clashed with Moscow. In 2003, local Transdniestrians, for example, were ordered to obstruct Russian efforts to honor international commitments to remove weapons from the region. Then OSCE ambassador in Chișinău and experienced U.S. diplomat Ambassador William Hill wrote,

I witnessed a number of occasions in which Transdniestrian troops or police forces physically prevented Russian military units from preparing or carrying out the destruction or evacuation of Russian military equipment or ammunition stored in the Transdniestrian region. In one instance, one of my OSCE Military Mission Members from another post-Soviet country who as a youth had served in the Soviet armed forces was stunned to witness military units under Tiraspol’s command directly countermand and resist Russian orders.5

Obstacles to a Settlement

Moldova and Transdniestria have much in common on a local level. Their location at a geopolitical meeting point makes the conflict dynamics more complicated.

While opposing Transdniestrian ambitions for independence, Russia has had its own conceptions of what a settlement should look like. In 2003, Moscow was able to strong-arm Igor Smirnov into backing the plan that came nearest to fulfilment, the so-called Kozak Memorandum. The plan envisaged that Transdniestria rejoin Moldova but keep a Russian military presence and have veto powers on Moldova’s future foreign and security policies. In effect, as Moscow would later do in eastern Ukraine, it sought to use Transdniestria’s special status to block any movement by Moldova toward NATO. At the last minute, the leadership in Chișinău, supported by Western countries, rejected the plan.

There is no consensus in right-bank Moldova as to what a good settlement would look like. This reflects a wider divergence of views on what Moldova’s future orientation and in particular its relationships with the EU and Russia should look like. There are at least three different camps. Hill has written, “If one desires another simple rule of thumb to augment the conventional wisdom about Moldovan politics, it is that the left tends to be pro-Russian, the right tends to be pro-Romanian, and a large center tends to be ‘Moldovanist,’ that is, for an independent Moldovan state, irrespective of its geopolitical orientation.”6

Moldova and Transdniestria have much in common on a local level. Their location at a geopolitical meeting point makes the conflict dynamics more complicated.

These divisions have deepened since 2016, when the country elected Dodon of the Socialist Party as president (a position that holds limited constitutional powers), who advocates friendlier relations with Moscow, while the ostensibly pro-Europe Democratic Party and its patron Vladimir Plahotniuc still control the government. Each leader has his own advisers on Transdniestria. The divisions are likely to worsen in 2019 as new elections approach.

Looking to the future, an estimated 15 to 20 percent of Moldova’s population favors reunification of right-bank Moldova and Romania—an aspiration backed by larger numbers in Romania. Some of these “unionists” explicitly say that Transdniestria should be cut adrift, a move that, in their view, would rid Moldova of an unwelcome constituency of Slavic pro-Russian citizens. George Simion, a Romanian who supports reunification, recently asserted that “lacking a proper referendum, one can only speculate about the extent of unionist support in Moldova. Transdniestria never was part of Romania.”7

A “Moldovanist” makes a different case, that unless and until the Transdniestria conflict is resolved, his country will not be a grown-up state. He envisions Moldova as a multiethnic, decentralized, Eastern European Switzerland while regretting how distant this prospect is: “I believe that without resolution of the Transdniestrian problem, Moldova as a self-governing state is doomed to failure. The interests of three great cultures, Slavic, Latin, and Turkic, have intersected in Moldova. They will fight for a long time. And either this model will be imposed on us or we will adopt it ourselves and we will convince serious [international] players to leave us in peace.”8

This vision is not widely shared in Chișinău. In contrast to Georgia, where a circle of experts drafted many papers and worked intensively on Abkhazia for years, the number of Moldovan experts and officials actively working on Transdniestria is small. The government’s Bureau of Integration is poorly funded and understaffed. It took officials years to draft a strategy document on the conflict, despite frequent requests and offers of help from the OSCE.

Many Moldovans are content with the status quo and argue that Chișinău should make no concessions to Tiraspol, short of the latter agreeing unconditionally to rejoin Moldova. In the view of one former Moldovan official, the people of Transdniestria “are hostages in this fortress, kept by Russia.” In 2016, when the OSCE first sought to broker agreements on a series of small steps between the two sides, a group of nongovernmental activists and former officials published a letter of protest, entitled “Declaration of the Civil Society Regarding the Red Lines of the Transnistrian Settlement,” that opposed even these small steps.9 The signatories declared that Moldova’s international partners were pressuring the government to “make unilateral concessions incompatible with the norms and principles of international law.”

The example of Gagauzia also illustrates Moldova’s divisions. The Gagauz are a minority population in Moldova, Turkic in origin and language but Orthodox in religion and generally pro-Russian in political outlook. They were guaranteed special rights under the 1994 Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia but complain that little has been done in practice to give them the status they aspire to. OSCE Ambassador Michael Scanlan described implementation of the law as “a work in progress” in 2018, twenty-four years later.10

Many Moldovans are content with the status quo and argue that Chișinău should make no concessions to Tiraspol.

Moldova’s indecision suits many in Transdniestria, who use the Gagauzia example to argue that Chișinău is not serious about offering them special status. They also point to Moldova’s poor record on rule of law, and the fraud scandal in which $1 billion was reported missing from three Moldovan banks in 2014 as evidence that it is not in their best interests to rejoin a Moldovan state. This allows Transdniestrian leaders to deflect criticism of their own still dubious record on human rights and corruption.

The conflict stalemate also endures thanks to another factor less talked about in public: the status quo evidently suits business elites on both sides of the river who profit economically from Transdniestrian’s status as an international legal black hole. Occasionally, an agreement is reached, without international mediation between Chișinău and Tiraspol, that shows how closely the two sides can cooperate when they have a shared economic interest. For example, in 2012, the two sides swiftly struck a deal to allow railway freight traffic to transit Transdniestria. This involved setting up two joint Moldovan-Transdniestrian customs posts inside Transdniestria staffed by Moldovan customs officials.11 The (unverified) speculation was that this facilitated smuggling contraband cigarettes.

Abkhaz border Tiraspol, Transdniestria. Posters in the city center, advertising transport to Russia and hair for sale.

(Photo courtesy of the author.)

Transdniestria still has a large, if diminishing, gray and black economy. ATMs in Tiraspol offer cash in either Transdniestrian rubles or U.S. dollars, which are still widely used in the territory, likely for extra-budgetary payments. Contraband and duty-free goods are in wide circulation. The global trade in illegal cigarettes was estimated by one European official to be worth $13 billion in 2014, with Transdniestria being one of Europe’s transit routes, although he said it has declined since then.

Senior figures in both Moldova and Ukraine have been willing co-conspirators in these schemes. For years, according to the European official, the Ukrainian port of Odessa “made Transdniestria possible.” Odessa and Transdniestria were partners in a lucrative scheme for contraband goods. The goods would arrive in Odessa’s port marked for import to Moldova (specifically Transdniestria), thereby escaping Ukrainian customs duties. They would then either bypass Transdniestria altogether or go there before reentering Ukraine. The EU’s border monitoring mission, which has helped to curtail the smuggling, estimated in 2006 that by official import statistics, each resident of Transdniestria was eating more than 100 kilograms of chicken legs a year (in Germany, the average consumer ate around 10 kilograms of chicken that year).12 Since then, however, the economic profile of the region has become more respectable.

Transdniestria Today

First impressions can be misleading. Partly through choice, partly as a result of external events, Transdniestria has evolved in the last few years. A traveler to Tiraspol would be struck by how much the city resembles a Soviet Union theme park, with its statues of Lenin, flag bearing the hammer and sickle, and old-fashioned street names such as Rosa Luxemburg Street. Yet this hides a distinct economic turn toward Europe.

Under its first leader, Igor Smirnov, Transdniestria was a closed society. Some political pluralism managed to develop but also the government made arbitrary detentions and restricted press freedom. In 2011, Moscow moved to get rid of Smirnov, whom it had come to regard as unreliable.13 The next leader, Yevgeny Shevchuk, presided over a turbulent period until he fled the region in 2016, accused of abuse of power and corruption. Under his rule, international concerns about human rights persisted, in particular over detentions, treatment of minorities, and harassment of opposition figures.

The city resembles a Soviet Union theme park, with its statues of Lenin, flag bearing the hammer and sickle, and . . . Rosa Luxemburg Street. Yet this hides a distinct economic turn toward Europe.

In 2016, the region’s powerful business elite, centered around the Sheriff conglomerate, took power. Founded by Ilya Kazmali and Viktor Gusan, Sheriff is by far the biggest private employer in the territory. It owns an ubiquitous chain of supermarkets, the celebrated Kvint winery and distillery, gas stations, a mobile phone provider, a television station, and Moldova’s most successful football club and best stadium. The candidate Sheriff supported, Vadim Krasnoselsky, became Transdniestria’s de facto president in December 2016.

Since the Ukraine crisis began in 2014, Transdniestria has been squeezed economically. Factories have closed and thousands of workers have left, while trade through Ukraine to Russia has been disrupted. In recent years, the population may have dropped below 400,000, by unofficial estimates. That is from 679,000 people living there according to the Soviet census of 1989 and 555,000 according to a locally organized census in 2004.

The economy is archaic and in need of reform. Pensions consume around 20 percent of the budget. For years, Russia has plugged the gaps, topping up pensions, to the point that they are higher in Transdniestria than in right-bank Moldova. Even more crucially, Transdniestria continues to receive Russian gas for free via right-bank Moldova. Local consumers pay for their gas, as does the large Kuchurgan power station. But Gazprom sends the bill to the Moldovan company MoldovaGaz, which—naturally enough—refuses to pay for its breakaway territory. The unpaid bill is now estimated to exceed $6 billion.14

Since 2015, Russia has reduced direct financial subsidies to Transdniestria. This may be because its bills for Crimea and eastern Ukraine are so high, and perhaps Moscow believes that Sheriff can afford to meet some of the social costs of the population. Nonrecognition also incurs economic costs. International bank transfers are difficult to make from the territory. In April 2011, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a bureau of the U.S. Treasury, recommended that U.S. companies avoid dealings with eight banks based in Transdniestria, citing lack of oversight and criminality there.15 As a result of this and other international sanctions, local companies trading with the EU must route payments and receipts through as many as three intermediary banks.

These developments have made Transdniestria poorer and reduced its ambitions. The leaders formally talk about independence, yet in 2018 Transdniestrian de facto officials would not make this a talking point in interviews. They insisted that their territory remains part of the Russian World in cultural, ideological, and political terms and that they want Russian troops to stay on their territory. However, they also said that they wanted to preserve good relations with Ukraine and took pains to distance themselves from any association with the two Russian-backed People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine. The officials disparaged the “immature” Moldovan state but also indicated that they were ready to cooperate closely on a range of practical issues. Finally, they welcomed international contacts. They said that economic relations with EU were important but were cautious about saying where the economic partnership with the EU might lead.

Next Steps

In 2016, under the German presidency of the OSCE, eight issues associated with the conflict were identified to be resolved, four by each side in the conflict:

  1. recognizing (apostolization) diplomas from Transdniestria in Moldova, allowing Transdniestrian students to continue their studies abroad;
  2. giving Transdniestrian vehicles internationally recognized license plates that would allow them to travel beyond Moldova;
  3. integrating the telecommunications market;
  4. regulating environmental standards in the Dniester River basin;
  5. reviewing criminal cases involving citizens from the other side of the river;
  6. operating schools teaching the Moldovan language in the Latin script within Transdniestria;
  7. ensuring farmers in Chișinău-controlled territory access to farmland in Dubasari in Transdniestria; and
  8. reopening the Gura-Bicului Bridge across the river, closed since 1992, and other issues of freedom of movement.16

The reopening of the bridge in November 2017 was a catalyst for progress on the other issues. Six of the eight measures had been agreed by the fall of 2018. Although many of these issues were only of interest to a small constituency, taken together they indicated a spirit of cooperation that set a positive example for other conflicts.

While the OSCE has been a skillful mediator, the EU is the main driver for change. “My head is in Russia, but my legs are walking to Europe,” said one veteran Transdniestrian politician. A large number of Transdniestrians have availed themselves of the opportunity to obtain Moldovan passports—an especially attractive proposition since Moldovans were granted visa-free travel to the Schengen zone in 2014. Moreover, Transdniestria has quietly joined the EU’s Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area for Moldova.

Deepen Trade Ties

Cut off from Russia geographically, Transdniestria’s factories have always sought to export to right-bank Moldova and the EU. In 2017, this relationship comprised two-thirds of the territory’s total exports, with less than 10 percent going to Russia. Up until 2016, this carried little political sensitivity. However, once Moldova joined the EU’s DCFTA and received certain trade preferences, Transdniestrian companies faced being shut out of their main market. After covert negotiations with Brussels, the Transdniestrian leadership agreed to join the DCFTA. This has opened up trade not just to EU countries but also to the wider world. There are reports, for example, that Chinese interpreters are working at the Kvint wine and cognac factory.

In practice, the government of Transdniestria has so far avoided implementing some of the key measures it had agreed to when it joined the DCFTA. In particular it needs to drop customs duties on EU imported goods, provide certificates of origin for its own goods, and comply with EU food hygiene standards. To make up for lost revenue, it should then introduce a value-added tax on sales (a tax that both Moldova and Russia have). Transdniestria’s slowness to comply with these demands has so far been overlooked in Brussels, which values the political importance of the deal.

In right-bank Moldova, there are concerns about the deal. One business leader, while welcoming the deal overall, said, “I wouldn’t call it economic integration of two banks, I would call it a parallel integration with EU.” He noted that many right-bank Moldovan businessmen were unhappy that the Transdniestrians had an unfair competitive advantage because they did not incur the same costs right-bank businesses have to pay to access EU markets.

A Transdniestrian businessman who runs a shoe factory in the town of Bender gave a different perspective. His business employs 1,300 workers and sells shoes, marked “MD” for Moldova, to eighty countries, he said. The factory director had no complaints about his business contacts in EU countries who invited him to trade fairs and were reliable customers. He was less complimentary about the EU trade regime, saying that he had to pay regulatory costs and, unlike right-bank Moldovan companies, had little information about changes in the rules and was offered very little technical assistance. Most frustrating of all was having to deal with Moldovan customs authorities, where the rules and those in charge of them changed frequently. “The DCFTA is a good idea—if it works properly,” he said. This indicates that the business community in Transdniestria would welcome an EU economic assistance program.

Explore New Areas of Engagement

Through its trading relationship, the EU has a foot in the door of Transdniestria. This could lead to more sustained involvement in other sectors, such as environment, education, and healthcare. Currently, the international presence on the ground is still limited, and there is no EU office in Tiraspol. The public is still suspicious about the EU. Ten politics students at Transdniestrian State University in March 2018 made this clear in conversation. None of the ten had traveled to EU countries. They did not feel the influence of the EU in their lives. They were curious—several of them said they were keen to visit the rest of Europe—but also cautious. Some of the students raised the issue of gay marriage as proof that they did not subscribe to “European values”—a strong indication that they had been influenced by Russian media.

Through its trading relationship, the EU has a foot in the door of Transdniestria. This could lead to more sustained involvement in other sectors.

EU engagement with Transdniestria has thus far been ad hoc and guided by political concerns in the parent state, Moldova, and caution about the negotiations. As incremental progress has been made, the time is now ripe to offer more sustained engagement, which will affect more people in society than the relatively small number who benefit directly from the Package of Eight agreements. The EU could offer to scale up this kind of agreement to whole institutions in Transdniestria, which need overhauling. One obvious beneficiary of assistance could be the poorly resourced and old-fashioned university in Tiraspol and its 3,000 students. This would require an even closer working relationship between international actors, the de facto authorities, and the government in Chișinău. That is an ambitious goal in the current Moldovan political climate—but it might stimulate new political debate in Moldova on an issue that has slipped down the agenda. It would also give Chișinău more leverage on issues of concern there, such as detentions and arrests of citizens from the right bank. This would be a challenge for the EU, which would need a more proactive approach beyond quiet diplomacy. Yet it is a next logical step in continuing the positive dynamic in the Transdniestria settlement process.


1 In practice, Russia is the dominant language in the region.

2 Transdniestria shares this tradition of commemoration of past military victory with other breakaway territories. Abkhazia, Nagorny Karabakh, and South Ossetia are all militarized in both fact and ideology.

3 Charles King, The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1999), 100.

4 A leitmotif in Abkhazia, Transdniestria, and northern Cyprus is that elites in all three insist they are not “separatists” but that the other side broke away first from a functioning state—the Soviet Union or the federal Republic of Cyprus. “What we are doing is not separatism,” a Transdniestrian de facto official insisted in 2018.

5 William H. Hill, “Unrecognized Actors From Unrecognized States: Moscow’s Puppets or Inevitable Interlocutors,” European Leadership Network, November 2017,

6 William H. Hill, “The Moldova-Transdniestria Dilemma: Local Politics and Conflict Resolution,” Carnegie Moscow Center, January 24, 2018,; and “IRI Survey: 46% of Moldovans Would Vote for Joining the European Union, 36%- Eurasian Union,”, July 16, 2018,

7 George Simion (@georgesimion), Twitter, May 7, 2018,

8 Interview with author, November 2016.

9 “Declaration of the Civil Society Regarding the Red Lines of the Transnistrian Settlement,” Promo-LEX.


11 I am grateful to Lyndon Allin for this insight. Text is available at

12 “Moldova and Transdniestria, Another Forgotten Conflict,” Economist, November 13, 2008,

13 See Claus Neukirch, “Will a New Transdniestrian Leader Make A Difference?,” Global Observatory, January 10, 2012,

14 “Brief Report: Moldovan Energy Sector Challenges,”, October 23, 2017,

15 “FinCEN Advisory - FIN-2011-A008,” Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, April 15, 2011,

16 William H. Hill, “The Moldova-Transdniestria Dilemma: Local Politics and Conflict Resolution,” Carnegie Moscow Center, January 24, 2018,