Transnistria and nuclear weapons, Moscow's double threat. Erdogan: ready to host Russia-Ukraine negotiations


By John

Fears are growing over the possible opening of a new front in the Ukrainian conflict that could threaten Odessa. Authorities in the self-proclaimed Republic of Transnistria, a pro-Russian separatist entity on the territory of Moldova along Ukraine's western border, have said they intend to ask Moscow for “help” against “pressure” from Chisinau. And Russia responded that the «protection» of the interests of its «compatriots» in this territory is a «priority». Words that are enough to recall the ghosts of the recognition of the pro-Russian republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, in the Ukrainian Donbass, which preceded the Russian intervention against Kiev.

The Congress of deputies and local representatives of Transnistria, which had not met since 2006, approved a resolution asking Moscow to protect the separatist entity from what is defined as “growing pressure from Moldova”, denouncing a blockade of essential imports by the Chisinau authorities. An appeal launched just one day before Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual state of the nation speech before Parliament.

Russia has a contingent of 1,500 troops in Transnistria and has warned Moldova and Ukraine that an attack on them would lead to serious consequences. Furthermore, in its request, the Congress of the secessionist republic underlines that “more than 220,000 Russian citizens” reside in the territory, out of a total population of just under half a million.

“All requests are always carefully considered by the relevant departments,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Although the so-called Foreign Minister of Transnistria, Vitaly Ignatiev, underlined that what the local authorities are asking from Moscow is “diplomatic support”. While the Chisinau government claimed that it was an act of “propaganda coming from Tiraspol”, the capital of the seceded region.

According to Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Serebrian, Transnistria benefits from “policies of peace, security and economic integration” within the framework of Moldova's ties with the European Union, which last December approved the start of negotiations for the the accession of Chisinau, as well as Kiev.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, however, said tensions in Transnistria were “dangerous” for the region. The Financial Times, meanwhile, published what it presented as secret Russian dossiers that include information about past exercises on the use of tactical nuclear weapons in a conflict with another great power. These files – 29 in total drawn up between 2008 and 2014 – would reveal, according to some experts consulted by the newspaper, a lower threshold for the use of tactical nuclear weapons than that publicly admitted by Russia until now. The documents include training scenarios for an invasion by China, evidently considered a possible threat at the time.

“This is the first time that we see documents like this put into the public domain,” Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center in Berlin, told the newspaper, according to whom the material “demonstrates that the operational threshold for the use of weapons nuclear power is rather low if the desired result cannot be achieved by conventional means.”

Tass, however, announced that scientists from the Russian military logistics academy Khrulev have developed a new simulator, which will replace a more antiquated one, to test the effects of nuclear explosions for troop training. According to what is written in the patent, cited by the Tass agency, the aim is to provide “a clear simulation of the visual characteristics, such as the impact effect, flash of light and mushroom cloud, of a nuclear explosion on the ground”.

Ukraine: Erdogan, ready to host Moscow-Kiev negotiations

Turkey «is ready to once again host negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Istanbul to give new hope for peace. The Turkish president said it,
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a video message as reported by Anadolu agency.
“I still believe that it is necessary to give dialogue and diplomacy a chance to achieve a lasting and just peace,” Erdogan added.