Moscow Rebuffs Moldova’s Sandu On Troop Withdrawal From Transdniester

November 30, 2020 19:13 GMT – By RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service

CHISINAU — The Kremlin has rebuffed calls by Moldova’s incoming President Maia Sandu for Russian troops to withdraw from the separatist region of Transdniester, saying such a move could lead to “serious destabilization.”

Sandu, who favors closer ties with the European Union, vowed to balance ties with the West and Russia after decisively defeating pro-Russian incumbent Igor Dodon in the second round of Moldova’s presidential election two weeks ago.

But the former World Bank economist on November 30 called for Russian troops in Transdniester to be removed in favor of civilian monitors under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), adding that she wanted dialogue with Moscow.

“We are an independent country that does not want foreign troops to stay on its territory,” she told a press conference.

In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia expected the authorities in Chisinau to remain “constructive.”

Russia is playing a “very important role” in Transdniester, and “a change in some status quo” there could lead to “serious destabilization,” Peskov told reporters.

Transdniester declared independence from then-Soviet Moldova in 1990. Moldovan forces and Moscow-backed Transdniester fought a short war in 1992 over fears that newly independent Moldova would seek reunification with neighboring Romania.

The conflict ended with a cease-fire agreement after Russian troops in the region intervened on the side of the separatists.

Some 1,400 Russian troops remain in Transdniester guarding Soviet-era arms depots. Transdniester’s independence is not recognized by any country, but Moscow has been unofficially backing the separatist regime.

Putin congratulated Sandu after the November 15 runoff vote, which was viewed as a referendum on whether the former Soviet republic sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania should move closer to the EU or be drawn more tightly into Moscow’s orbit.

Sandu is to be inaugurated as president on December 24.


  1. “Russia is playing a “very important role” in Transdniester”

    I wonder what that is now, considering there is no fear Moldova wants to join Romania anymore? Maybe it is a peacekeeping force separating Ukraine from fighting with Moldova? Can some journalist please ask rubber lips Pisscough what this very important role is?

    • Occupation and to keep Moldova out of NATO. That’s their role…like their peacekeeping missions in Donbas, Crimea and Abchazia.

  2. I don’t see why Ukraine and Moldova cannot remove these troops. Transnistria is fully surrounded. Russia cannot come to the rescue. And they can both block access, so no gas and arms can get in. They can also quite easily starve the Russian soldiers.

      • Only about 22K tons(I know only) are left. Originally there was about 44k. The UN mandated they destroy or remove the entire amount.They destroyed about 20k as per the agreement in 91 to 93. Then suddenly they stopped and nothing has been done since.
        I wonder why?

      • It is less. But the issue is that there are only about 1500 soldiers. And without gas and food, these weapons are useless.

        And also, they have been selling these arms on the black market for years. They have a lot of explosives, but not necessarily weapons to shoot them, as a lot of this equipment is either sold or just worn out, as a lot has been rusting away outside for decades.

        I think the Ukrainians are more worried for a full scale invasion from the East if they become too assertive.

  3. Russians are the equintessencial “Party crashers who never leave.”

    They steal your money, kill your wife, rape your daughter and burn down half your house.

    Then they are shocked and angry that you hate them and want them to leave.

    If Sandu want them out, she will have to learn to play hard. Putin only respects strength. You don’t see him messing around with Erdogan of Turkey.

    That is because Erdogan plays by putin’s rules; Take what you want regardless of the cost.

    • Moldova’s army is a joke in comparison to Turkey’s. Also the stinky turks are in Nato, while Moldova is not. I therefore don’t see how tiny Moldova could ‘play hard’. All they can do is cut ties with Muscovy. Getting the ruSSian troops out will require US support.

      • Agreed. Moldova has absolutely nothing that will impress the Russians.

        I think Sandu is even a bit more assertive than I would be: Moldova is not a very pro-European country, as a lot of the people there are old and only watching tv.
        She didn’t win with a huge margin.

        I think she is vulnerable to misinformation by Russia, and of course Russia could also heat up the frozen conflict they have.

        I think she is walking out in front of the troops: the international situation is not yet in her favour. Europe is only busy with covid, and even if Biden will be as supportive of freedom aspiring countries in Eastern-Europe: we will be many months in the future when the American administration will installed.

        I think I would be a bit more ambiguous, and then when the situation in the world would allow it, speak out in very clear terms against Russian aggression. And of course, she needs to invest in ties with Ukraine, because as long as Ukraine doesn’t seal the border with Transnistria, Russia can keep supplying stuff to Transnistria.

        Russian can still rotate troops, as Ukraine has a visa free regime with Russia. This is a problem, because Russia gives the soldiers in Transnistria a nice fake ID, and the Russian soldiers can simply drive to Transnistria through Ukraine as a civilian.

  4. Certainly, President Maia Sandu’s call for mafia land to leave Transnistria is a symbolic gesture. Moldova hardly has the means to extract the deeply-seated tick.

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