Monday, April 30, 2018

Money, transports and exports - an investment frozen conflict by Russia

Editorial by Vlad Lupan“Temporary tactics of the Transnistrian conflict”

I wrote an OpEd for the Foreign Policy Association of the Republic of Moldova on the temporary tactics of the Transnistrian conflict settlement. Why tactics and not a strategy? 

1. Tactics - under Confidence Building Measures, the Moldovan Government allowed the Russian investments in the Trans-Nistrian separatist region to get export opportunities to the West, via "neutral" number plates for their transport/carriers (that no longer have Moldova signs on it - Italy's Frattini championed the initiative, as OSCe Special Representative, based on Italian experience). Not all of those funds/investments in Transnistrian region are directly from Russia, some are local&regional and backing the separatism with funds and "kickbacks" everywhere in the region. This is not a strategic move by Moldovan Govt aiming at the negotiations format or Confidence Building, unfortunately, as the issue of Russian money laundering through the region is known to the media in Moldova and abroad. On "neutral" number plates allowing exports - it's unclear (and maybe less probable) that these export opportunities will undermine the existing sanctions against Russia via Kremlin's affiliates proxy investments in separatist areas that have export capabilities to US and EU. However the acceptance to provide Moldovan "neutral" number plates for separatists transportation is already dangerous in terms of money flows and more (the separatists are exporting most of its products to Europe, including some electricity produced on Russian gas delivered to the separatists, used by a Russian-owned power plant, and later claimed to be the debt of (billed to) the Government of Moldova - the debt amounts to billions now. No debt for plates negotiations seemed to have taken places... Also Russian's insistence on providing international "non-Moldovan/neutral" plates to separatist transport companies, where Russians have direct&indirect interests, was very high throughout the years of conflict settlement negotiations).

2. Strategy - Russian Government's strategic goals remain unchanged, from statements about 'mistaken dissolution of USSR' to challenging #USA and the West globally. Frozen & hot conflicts as in #Moldova and #Ukraine are integral to that. The fact that a conflict in #Moldova is so near #Ukraine is important to distract Kyiv's attention and resources from #Donbass. The "transfer" of initiative on the Transnistrian file from the Government to the pro-Russian President & his views, practically run against association with EU and Copenhagen Criteria - increasing the danger of "transnistrization" of Moldova, a term we know since 2003 Kozam Memorandum. Read my OpEd for the Foreign Policy Association of Moldova about the "temporary tactics of the Transnistrian conflict" and why the Russian money, through investments and exports via "neutral" Moldovan plates would actually support separatism, play along the Russian interests, and gain little in terms of the conflict resolution.

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(Note that this is an expert opinion and was written in a non-political/non-partisan manner for FPA/APE from the Republic of Moldova. I have been a conflict negotiator in Joint Control Commission, in the political Five-sided format for Transnistrian conflict settlement, before it became 5+2. I dealt with Russian troops withdrawal from R.Moldova, CFE, arms control and was the Head of NATO and political-military issues Directorate. I was also a member of three OSCE Field Missions in Georgia (South Ossetia), Albania and Croatia. My last posting was as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Moldova to UN. My expertise in international security, comparative conflict resolution & post conflict rehabilitation was taken into account by FPA/APE for this short OpEd) 
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