Containing the armed conflict in Moldova (Transnistria)


The peacekeeping efforts of the Joint Control Commission and ongoing talks mediated by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has helped to prevent renewed conflict between the Government of Moldova and the administration of the breakaway republic in Transnistria.

As the Soviet Union began to collapse in 1989, the Moldovan population was divided on the question of independence. An increasingly tense political climate led pro-Soviet groups along the border with Ukraine to announce the formation of a new Republic, Transnistria, which they declared would remain in the Soviet Union. The unfolding crisis continued to escalate, despite Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev dismissing the declaration as void.1 Following the attempted coup in Moscow in 1991, independence was proclaimed by Moldovan leaders in the capital, Chișinău. A few months later, leaders in Transnistria declared independence from Moldova. Fighting began when Moldovan police (an army was yet to be established) attempted to gain control of government buildings in Transnistria from paramilitary forces.2 The conflict continued to escalate until June 1992, when a Russian Military intervention in support of the separatists drove back a Moldovan offensive.

Efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict began in April 1992, but it was not until June that progress was made. The Agreement on Principles, signed in July 1992, formally ended the conflict and provided for the establishment of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) to keep the peace in Transnistria.3 The JCC, a 5,500-strong peacekeeping mission formed of Moldovan, Transnistrian, and Russian military personnel, was tasked with monitoring the ceasefire and separating the belligerents.4 The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has served as an observer on the JCC since its formation, gathering information on the conflict, the activities of the erstwhile belligerents, and the work of the peacekeeping mission. In addition, the OSCE has maintained dialogue between the parties to the conflict, shuttling between leaders in Chișinău and Transnistria while also convening international talks on the issue at the highest levels.5 These efforts made noteworthy progress in recent years, with the Berlin, Vienna, and Rome protocols demonstrating some promise for finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict.6 Since 2005, the EU has also been working to maintain stability in the area through the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine.7 Although the conflict remains unresolved, decades of work by the JCC and OSCE have prevented another eruption of fighting.

1 Cristian Urse. “Solving Transnistria: Any Optimists Left?” Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes, Vol. 7, No. 1. (2008) p.58

2 UCDP. Moldova: Dniestr. (UCDP, 2020) Available at: (Accessed 01/12/2020)

3 Agreement on the Principles for a Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Dniester Region of the Republic of Moldova, 1992. Available at: (Accessed 01/12/2020)

4 Short & Lauenstein. Peace and Conflict Since 1991. p.131

5 OSCE. “Conflict prevention and resolution.” OSCE Mission to Moldova. (OSCE, 2020) Available at: (Accessed 01/12/2020)

6 Protocol of the Official Meeting of the Permanent Conference for Political Questions in the Framework of the Negotiating Process on the Transdniestrian Settlement, 2018. Available at: (Accessed 01/12/2020)

7 EUBAM. What we do? Conflict Resolution. (EUBAM, 2020) Available at: (Accessed 01/12/2020)

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Transnistria, (de jure) Moldova

UN Regional Group

Eastern Europe

Type of Conflict

Vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict with foreign involvement

Type of Initiative

Peacekeeping mission

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The Joint Control Commission, Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe




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