Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 122

Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, acting prime minister Vasyl Durdinets, Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko, and economic officials held meetings with a Transdniester delegation headed by Igor Smirnov in Kyiv on June 19-21. The top item on the agenda was the plan to deploy Ukrainian peacekeepers alongside Russian troops in Transdniester, as envisaged by the May 8 Memorandum signed by Presidents Kuchma, Boris Yeltsin of Russia, Petru Lucinschi of Moldova, Smirnov (as "head of Transdniester administration"), and OSCE representatives. (See Monitor, May 8-9) However, the sides withheld information on this matter. Durdinets and Smirnov signed a protocol on economic and cultural cooperation, envisaging direct links between border areas and enterprises and support by Kyiv to Ukrainian-language education and Ukrainian culture in Transdniester. The visit had been agreed upon in advance by Chisinau and Kyiv. The latter avoided any gesture that could have been interpreted as recognition of Transdniester. (Flux, UNIAN, Ukrinform, June 20-21)

Ukraine is cautiously beginning to assert its influence in Russian-controlled Transdniester while avoiding open rivalry with Russia and supporting Moldova’s territorial integrity. All sides accept or favor up to a point a Ukrainian role: Moldova needs a counterweight to Russia; Transdniester seeks a backup ally in view of the steady reduction of Russian forces; and Moscow will soon be unable to control the region and does not want to see OSCE-sponsored Western forces there. Moreover, Moscow is no longer in a position economically to sustain Transdniester, while Chisinau and Kyiv both favor a the region’s economic reorientation. Present-day Transdniester formed part of Ukraine between the world wars. Ukrainians form the region’s second largest ethnic element, behind Moldovans and ahead of Russians. Most of Transdniester’s Ukrainians are not considered part of a diaspora, since they are indigenous to the region.

Moldova Sets its Hopes on Wine.