Across the Nistru

Paula Erizanu

Over the past week Moldova has received more than 166,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war. Helped by thousands of volunteers, the Moldovan authorities turned hospitals, universities and wedding halls into refugee centres. Also this week, Moldova commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of post-Soviet Russia’s first war against one of its former colonies.

On 2 March 1992, soon after Moldova declared independence from the USSR, Russia started an armed conflict against the country, backing separatists in Transnistria. I was born in Chișinău in May that year. My mother could hear the bombing on the river Nistru, seventy kilometres from the maternity ward. Hundreds of people died in the fighting, which ceased on 21 July, but the conflict never really ended. The unrecognised breakaway region of Transnistria is still funded and controlled by Russia.

Russia agreed to withdraw its troops from Transnistria in 1999 but more than twenty years later they are still there. They are protecting Soviet-era weaponry, including twenty thousand tonnes of ammunition at an arms depot in the village of Cobasna. Russia has ignored repeated requests from Moldovan governments to remove its arsenal.

With the invasion of Ukraine, Moldovans are once again being woken in the night by the sound of air strikes. People have opened their homes, providing transport and food to fleeing Ukrainians, yet the country is at capacity and needs more international support. Many of us also fear the Russian aggression could extend to Moldova. Some have already left.

Please consider donating to the Moldovan refugee support here. Scroll for English.