Moldova's relationship with Ukraine, another important player in the Transnistrian conflict, is also complicated. Historically, areas that were traditionally part of the region of Moldova or Romania (northern Bukovina, Herta, and southern Bessarabia), and that continue to be inhabited in part by ethnic Romanians, were annexed by Ukraine when the Moldavian SSR was formed. The potential claims on these territories created tension between the two neighbors in the early years of Moldova's independence, when the Popular Front made public demands for restitution.
Another potential problem is the presence of a large ethnic Ukrainian minority in Moldova. Ethnic Ukrainians have sided with the local ethnic Russians in the dispute over Moldova's language law, and many ethnic Ukrainians have supported the separatist effort in Transnistria. However, the government of Moldova took significant measures to meet the demands of the Ukrainian minority for cultural autonomy and appears to have met with substantial success in defusing opposition to Moldova's Language Law.
In 1995 potential problems between Ukraine and Moldova were subordinate to what had emerged as a strong common interest in containing the Transnistrian conflict. Given their own dispute with Russia concerning the status of Crimea, Ukrainians had little interest in supporting the presence of Russian military units outside Russia.
As a more practical question, it was not in Ukraine's interest to have a large and well-equipped Russian military formation based in neighboring Transnistria. The 14th Army could reach Russia only by traversing Ukrainian territory or airspace, so its presence could only be seen as a potential source of danger and instability. Therefore, it is not surprising that Ukrainian president Leonid M. Kravchuk made several statements supporting Moldova's position in the Transnistrian conflict, protested the movement of "Cossack" volunteers across Ukrainian territory to Transnistria, and refused to recognize Transnistrian claims to sovereignty.
|Country Studies main page | Moldova Country Studies main page|