A federalisation plan for the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic
The area of Moldova colloquially known as Transnistr, or more formally as the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic, needs to be absorbed into a contemporary European member state where it's institutional capacity can be developed along European lines and its people can enjoy European standards of living. Pridnestrovia's model of existence since 1992, whereby she exists as a vassal state of a distant imperial power in Moscow, is no longer viable because Pridnestrovia is surrounded on all sides by territory hostile to Russia: Moldova to the west, an emerging EU member state; and free Ukraine to the east, a neighbour virulently hostile to Russia and all her interests.
written about Pridnestrovia during the course of 2022, that we commend to the reader.
For as long as Pridnestrovia maintains her current political alignment, she will be embargoed by all sides and her people will continue to suffer from poverty and food shortages as well as atrocious infrastructure never developed after the 1992 war upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in which Russian troops fought out Moldovan troops on behalf of the Russian-Ukrainian population of Moldova and then installed a small battalion of Russian peacekeeping forces.
So the war in Ukraine of 2022 has changed everything for Pridnestrovia. Had Russian armed forces reached Odessa, they would have annexed adjacent Pridnestrovia. The fact is that they never did and now they never will, because the Russian army has proved too incompetent to defeat a smaller but committed free Ukrainian army supplied with NATO weapons.
So Pridnestrovia must join one ofher nieghbours in a federalisation arrangement. Here is our proposal for how this might work.
Such Russian peacekeepers as remain in Pridnestrovia must be driven out by force (but it will not take very much force). It is believed that in recent years the numbers of Russian troops in Pridnestrovia have been no more than about 1,500, many of whom have been flown in via Chisinau International Airport from Russia under a 'dont ask don't tell' arrangement between Chisinau and Tiraspol. Very little Russian armour is in Pridnestrovia; the principal Russian ammunition dump in Pridnestrovia was blown up by a Ukrainian drone in April 2022.
The Russians have now effectively been cut off from Pridnestrovia, and it is believed that their numbers may amount only to as little as a few hundred.
Overnight, in a lightning strike, the Moldovans and the Ukrainians should jointly invade Transnistr in a pincer movement. The territory is only a few miles wide and the only town of substance the Russians might even try to defend is Bender (population 15,000, on the frontier with the rest of Moldova). The conspicuous Russian military bases should be taxed using cruise missiles with inertial guidance systems, to minimise casualties, so that the Russians are left with nothing except a few jeeps.
Then Moldovan and Ukrainian forces jointly sweep in and invite the Russian troops to surrender. Those who do get either a Moldovan or Ukrainian passport allowing them to stay in Transnistr (the Russian community is quite well integrated into Pridnestrovian society by now), or they get to be taken as PoW's in civilised conditions and swapped out to Russia in the course of later PoW negotiations.
The entire FSB staff in Pridnestrovia (fortuitously they are all located in the same giant building known as the 'Russian Consulate'), that forms a sort of shadow government for Pridnestrovia supervising all its departments, should all be summarily arrested and deported peacefully to Russia.
At this stage the EU must be ready to get involved immediately, with its own shadow government system of the kind that the EU is so effective at implementing to drive EU accession processes. This must take place straight away to prevent Moldova and Ukraine from squabbling over the proceeds and treasure. Remember that Pridnestrovia is quite wealthy and it has a highly functioning goverrnmnent with high rule of law. Neither Moldova nor Ukraine should be able to interfere with these institutions. Russian supervision of them is replaced with EU supervision, with an immediately available team of no fewer than 3,000 civilian implementers.
All the domestic Pridnestrovian government officials remain in place for a minimum of two years, pending the reforms necessary for the territory to have a meaningful referendum on its future and meaningful elections. These things will take time mainly because Pridnestrovia has no free press. It will have to develop at least the elements of one before there can be any free elections.
The Pridnestrovian ruble should not be touched. It is a well run currency and the Pridnestrovian Central Bank one of the region's better run central banks. In the long run Moldova may need to have two parallel currencies to avoid economic backsliding.
The political model for integration of Pridnestrovia into Moldova, an EU accession state, should be one of dramatic federalism so that many or most high-quality Pridnestrovian institutions remain in existence under the loosest possible sort of federal structure.
The absurd 'border controls' between Pridnestrovia and Moldova need to be abolished immediately.
The blocks on Pridnestrovian SIM cards working anywhere else in the world; and upon any other SIM cards working in Pridnestrovia, should be removed immediately.
The common carrier systems (i.e. public and private mail) and internet infrastructure (both use .md) are already integrated.
All dictates and decisions of the Ministry of Internal Security (the Russian-run KGB) should be abolished summarily (including the one banning this author from entry) and the Ministry should be comprehensively reformed.
Pridnestrovia's roads are appalling. A road renovation project should be immediately prepared, disbursement of funds under which are contingent upon cooperation by the existing Pridnestrovian government.
The 'Pridnestrovian Foreign Ministry' should be redesigned as a Ministry of Regional Affairs.
Pridnestrovia's criminal code must be rewritten very promptly, to remove discrimination against Moldovan language speakers, homosexuals, and other minority groups.
Pridnestrovia's court system seems competent but opaque. It will require full desktop andanagerial reviews.
E-government publication of all government acts (secret legislation is heard of in Pridnestrovia) and e-government portal access for citizens should be introduced, to wipe away some of Pridnestrovia's excessive bureaucracy.
Sberbank Pridnestrovia, being a branch of an internationally sanctioned bank, should be nationalised immediately by decree and renamed 'Transnistrbank' for example. The remainder of the banking system should be reviewed but with a presumption that it will not be touched in fundamental ways.
Provisions for Russian students to continue uninterrupted studies at Shevchenko Transnistr State University, the academic jewel of the region, should be implemented immediately using e-government measures.
Measures to introduce English language learning in schools and for all civil servants should be prioritised.
The principal language of the regional territory, Russian, should remain untouched although Moldovan should be taught throughout schools more than it is now (it is taught but not enough).
The border between Tiraspol (Pridnestrovia) and Odessa (Ukraine) should be normalised and made as light as possible, together with a motorway that renders travel between the two cities as little as one hour. An express train running Chisinau-Tiraspol-Odessa should also be developed.
The UEFA decision to ban international soccer matches in Pridnestrovia should be reversed immediately and Sheriff Tiraspol sports stadium should be promoted regionally and across Europe.
The Sheriff Corporation, that owns so much in Pridnestrovia (supermarkets, restaurants, some shops, the sports facilities, some hotels) should be disassembled into more rational constituent company structures; but gradually, in part because because the current structure is not understood and in part because the current structure does seem successful and one tinkers at one's peril with a good corporate structure.
Any structural reforms to the Sheriff Corporation should undertaken in consultation with the relevant local political office who, to re-emphasise, will remain in power for at least two years until elections become feasible.
This plan should be planned rapidly and executed immediately, before the Russians can scuttle it; if undertaken effectively and in coordination with an inter-agency 'supervisor' of Pridnestrovia that guides the reform of the reforming processes of the EU and other international actors, may be able to normalise the situation in Pridnestrovia extremely quickly. The Pridnestrovians are not aggressive people themselves liable to cause conflict.
A public transition plan with monthly milestones should be prepared for the public; the well-educated Pridnestrovians should have it explained to them with care what is being done and why; and a total timescale of two to three years for international withdrawal and a final constitutional status for Pridnestrovia as a highly autonomous federal Moldovan region, with its own currency, should be developed in consensus with the intelligentsia of the community within just a few months.