Flag of Transnistria
Moldova may be on the verge of losing its Transnistria and Gagauzia provinces if Crimea's Sunday referendum starts a trend across eastern Europe.
World Bulletin / News Desk
With Crimea's Sunday referendum regarding the peninsula's annexation from Ukraine to Russia looming, other European nations are worried that certain pro-Russian provinces in their country's may also follow the Crimean roadmap and join a 'Eurasian Union' with Russia.
One such country is Moldova, which fears the same fate for its Transnistria province, which is the only place in Europe to still sport the Soviet-era hammer and sickle symbols on its flag and emblems.
Transnistria is a breakaway state located mostly on a strip of land between the River Dniester and the eastern Moldovan border with Ukraine. It declared its in 1990 and is governed as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, and is unrecognized by any UN state.
Although it has its own currency, passports and number plates, for Moldovans Transnistria is considered to be occupied land run by pro-Russian gangsters. Transnistrians, on the other hand, have traditionally identified with Romania rather than Russia due to linguistic ties. As they do not share a border with Russia, it is unlikely they will be annexed, but they could see their claim of independence strengthened.
Nonetheless, Europeans are worried, with Serhii Pyrozhkov, Ukraine's ambassador to Moldova, saying that he is keeping a close watch on developments in Transnistria.
"According to our data, we suspect that on the territory of the Transnistrian region, Russian military troops have been recruiting activists to be sent to Odessa to participate in riots and destabilise the region," Pyrozhkov told Al Jazeera.
During the province's war of independence in 1992, Russian Cossacks joined the fight against the Moldovan authorities. At the same time, Russia maintains a presence of around 1,200 troops in the ethnically mixed region, which is home to over half a million people.
At the same time, more than 70% of eligible voters in Gagauzia, an autonomous region within the Republic of Moldova, also agreed to hold a vote on their political future. A February 2 poll showed that 98.4 percent of voters said they preferred closer relations with the Russian-led CIS Customs Union while 97.2 percent were against closer EU integration.
TAP - Odessa must be feeling the situation situated right in between Crimea and Transdniestria. Ukraine could be cut off from the sea if Odessa is destabilised. Belgrade must be twitching too, not to mention Kosovo.