Pictures of the Transnistrian side of the Transnistria War.

Not exactly a staple of most history classes outside of Moldova, the Transnistria War broke out in 1992. In the late 1980s, newly relaxed Soviet policies toward its constituent republics allowed the Moldovan government to make changes that appealed to the ethnic Moldovan (ie, ethnically Romanian) majority, like making Romanian the official language. There was talk of unifying the nation with Romania. The significant Russian minority in Moldova didn’t like it - and in September 1990, the primarily Russian area east of the Dniester/Nistru River declared independence from Moldova. (They didn’t declare independence from the USSR - they wanted to be a new republic within the country as a whole.) Moscow, however, did not recognize the territory. Almost immediately, small scale fighting between Moldovan police and the rebels in Transnistria broke out.

In August 1991 with the USSR falling apart, Moldova declared its independence and began to field an army to fight the separatists. Full scale war didn’t break out until March of 1992, when independent Moldova (with borders including the disputed Transnistria region) received recognition from the United Nations. Russia and Ukraine aided the Transnistrians; Romania aided the Moldovans.

The war itself was short - a cease-fire was signed in July of 1992. But very little progress has been made in the interim. Transnistria continues to maintain that it is an independent state, but the only other states that recognize it are also unrecognized former Soviet territories. Until it can be resolved, the standoff has a negative impact on the political and economic power of Moldova. Don’t hold your breath, though. The government in Chisinau doesn’t have the political strength to reunify the country, and Moldova is not exactly a high priority for the regional powers that do.

BTW, the writing on the tank in the top picture declares death to the Romanian occupiers, and the graffiti artist in the middle right is depicting what he thinks Moldova does for Romania.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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