Relations between Moldova and Transnistria seem to be losing some of their traditional hostility. But, if Russia is in a hurry to achieve a public relations victory in Moldova, Chisinau will find it difficult to make progress in talks with the Transnistrian authorities.
While tensions rise over Ukraine and Kazakhstan, the diplomatic atmosphere is showing signs of improvement in another long-standing post-Soviet problem area: the unrecognised ‘republic’ of Transnistria in Moldova. At the very least, relations between Moldova and the Transnistrian authorities seem to be losing some of their traditional hostility. Moldova initially resisted Russian pressure to link Transnistria to other issues in difficult negotiations over gas prices last autumn. And it is far from clear that it achieved this. Moldova paid its December gas bill, but gas prices went up by 17.5 per cent in January – forcing Moldovagaz, the national energy firm, to ask for an extension on its repayments. Another small-scale energy crisis is on the cards.