Troop disengagements with Russia work only after capitulation to Russia: lessons from Georgia and Moldova

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by Yuri Zoria, philologist, journalist who worked in Luhansk online media

The disengagements of troops in Moldova and Georgia took place under interstate agreements on a ceasefire signed between heads of Russia and the conflict’s “host state.” Most of the treaties were de-facto capitulation pacts signed after a military defeat or a sharp escalation of hostilities.

The tensions culminated in the Transnistrian War in March-July 1992. The Russian 14th Army, stationed at the moment in the region, supplied the anti-Moldovan rebels with weapons and equipment, mercenaries and volunteers from both Russia and Ukraine fought in the pro-Russian side. Finally the 14th Army openly came down on the side of the rebels, obliterated the major Moldovan troops, and effectively forced Moldova into capitulation.

In 2017, Moldova’s Constitutional Court concluded that the presence of Russian troops in Transnistria was unconstitutional and violated the law. However, Russia just ignored the ruling and had no intention to withdraw its contingent, while Moldova didn’t take any further action.

In 1990-1992, three autonomous regions of Georgia proclaimed independence. These were South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Adjara. The populations of the first two regions bordering on Russia had an ethnic majority different from the titular ethnicity while most of the inhabitants of the third region were a subethnic group of Georgians. Russia keeps expanding the occupation zones, covertly moving the borders on a regular basis further into Georgia.

Just like in September 1994 Abkhazia, the Russian-hybrid forces in the Donbas seemed doomed in the summer of 2014 after Ukrainian troops took control of most of the uncontrolled stretch of the border with Russia and nearly finished encircling two regional capitals, Luhansk and Donetsk.

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