Freitag, 23. Dezember 2011

Cry Me a River, Transnistria!

Courtesy of the US Army on flickr

Now, to readers of this blog (and there must be some, or so my provider keeps telling me) it will not come as a total surprise that Russian foreign policy is something I can go on about for hours (I've did so here and here). I've recently started preparing a lecture for my second trip to the Caucasus and started to dive into Russian foreign policy (and what a dive it is). In any event, I've already commented on the insane fuss about NATO missile defence and the failure of the CFE treaty due to Russian stubbornness and foreign policy blunders. But Russia (i.e. Putin) is resurrecting a foreign policy that to the historian looks more like the heyday of Brezhnev than détente. And though its hardly being covered in German media outlets, its not that the Russian government is trying to be too opaque. Far from it, the de facto termination of the CFE treaty was only the latest in a whole series of setbacks for Western-Russian relations. For years Russia has had what it calls peacekeeping forces in places like Georgia and Transnistria. At least the more educated know how intensely Russia has been working around both the CFE treaty and the CIS mandate to turn its peacekeeping troops into de facto occupying forces in the run-up to the 2008 Georgian war. And there have long been fears that it might do the same with its peacekeeping forces in Transnistria. Igor Smirnov, the self-proclaimed president of Transnistria, has recently lost an election there (though as of now, it is not clear what is to become of him or the elections), but previously had time to sit down with the nice people of the highly readable and new New Eastern Europe. In this interview the gloves came off (sort of). Transnistria, he proclaimed, has never left the Soviet Union and therefore is part of Russia (to the rest of the international community its actually part of Moldova, but you know, who is Smirnov to care, since he can't travel to Europe anyway). So, Transnistria is one of the lovely places that theoretically do not even exist but will in all likelihood be a hot button issue between NATO and Russia and one of the frozen conflicts to watch out for next year. And yes, I know its only a couple of minutes to christmas, so I've got this off my chest.  

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