A Fist Full of Euros has posted the first in a series on the Frozen Conflicts in the breakaway Moldovan Republic of Transnistria. See also past blog posts by Edward Lucas and Lyndon at Scraps of Moscow.
As for the conflict itself… well, it’s not so much frozen as dusty and abandoned. The original reason for it was that ethnic Russians didn’t want to be oppressed by ethnic Moldovans/Romanians. That has half disappeared. Moldova has promised autonomy and good treatment, and those promises are plausible; the Moldovans have treated their Russians inside Moldova pretty well, and have kept promises of autonomy made to their Gagauz. (The Gagauz are Christian Turks. Long story.) Also, while Moldova is still not exactly Switzerland, its prospects are a lot better than in 1991; it now borders the EU, trade and investment are picking up, and while it’s still the poorest country in Europe it’s comfortably more prosperous than Transnistria. Also, Transnistria lacks other options. The country’s rulers would love to merge with Russia, and much of the country’s population would probably follow them. But Russia lacks enthusiasm for picking up another exclave. Especially one that is (1) hundreds of kilometers south of Russia’s current borders, (2) totally lacking in resources or strategic utility, (3) majority non-Russian, and (4) dirt-poor. Independence doesn’t make a lot of sense; Transnistria is small, ethnically divided, economically dependent on Russia, and geographically ridiculous.