The territory has enjoyed de facto independence since a brief military conflict in 1992, though it is internationally recognized as a part of Moldova. However, Russia has shown no such ambition in Transnistria. The Russian Federation comments on the statements of the President of Moldova on the need to withdraw the Russian contingent from Transnistria Today, 13: 59 The new President of the Republic of Moldova Maia Sandu made a statement that is being actively discussed both in Moldova itself and in the Russian Federation. The parliament of Abkhazia has reacted sharply and negatively, saying that joining Russia is out of the question. In the rebel region, political analyst Anatoly Dirun of the Tiraspol School of Political Studies NGO, said Russian peacekeepers were still needed. Russia’s approach throughout the negotiation period has been the combination of unilateral and multilateral steps to secure its interests. In this sense, Transnistrian autonomy may prove to be one element of a broader policy rather than an end in itself: the OSCE negotiations offer Russia an alternative pathway for achieving its long-term goal of wielding influence over the rest of Moldova. Around one-third of the region's population of 500,000 is ethnically Russian and another one-third is Moldovan. Proposals are sounding in Russia to annex Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and the Donbass.. This broader context of Russia’s push for influence in Moldova casts the OSCE negotiations as an ideal opportunity to accomplish in small steps what Russia has attempted before: the federalization of Moldova and Transnistria. Georgia, for its part, says these statements may be part of a policy to place pressure on the new authorities of Abkhazia. Photo: BIRN/Madalin Necsutu. In July 2018, however, Dmitry Kozak—Deputy Prime Minister of Russia—returned to the scene as Russia’s “representative for the development of commercial-economic relations with the Republic of Moldova,” a role which has afforded him access to officials in the highest levels of the Moldovan government. “In the conditions of unresolved conflict, the withdrawal of Russian troops, which form the basis of the peacekeeping contingent in the security zone, will lead to a new round of escalation of the conflict,” Dirun told BIRN. Transnistria has its own currency, passports and number plates which aren’t recognised by the vast majority of the world’s countries. Between Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova lies the breakaway region known as Transnistria. “At the same time, Moscow is using Gagauz autonomy to put pressure on Chisinau.”. Transnistria — lost in Moldova Conflicts stuck on repeat. Perhaps more importantly, however, Russia has continued to pursue closer economic and political ties to build its “soft power.” At least in the short run, this policy seems to be working—the 2016 election of President Igor Dodon solidified pro-Russian sentiment in Moldovan government policy. This project started on November 1st, 2012 and aimed to boost the capacity of civil society organisations, the business community and the media to meaningfully participate in conflict prevention processes in Transnistria. Defying Dictatorships: An Interview with Garry Kasparov, On Atlantic Alliances and Autocrats: An Interview with Jeanne Shaheen, Europe’s Awakening to China’s Tech Dominance. Isac said Moscow had a willing collaborator in Moldova’s pro-Russian president, Igor Dodon, who may gain voters in any re-integration of Transnistria. In comparison to Ukraine, Moldova is of relatively small strategic importance to Russia, and is not the object of nationalist ambitions; nonetheless, its position as a country prepared to pivot either eastward or westward makes it an important geopolitical consideration. Further, Russia depicts itself as a reliable geopolitical alternative to the European Union, with some success: one April 2016 survey showed that while 62 percent of Moldovans support Vladimir Putin as a popular foreign politician, only 30 percent favor Angela Merkel or Barack Obama. In particular, they have enabled Russia to leverage its political and cultural influence in Transnistria to maintain and expand its influence in Moldova. During the last years of the 1980s, the political landscape of the Soviet Union was changing due to Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of perestroika and glasnost, which allowed political pluralism at the regional (republican) level.