Dodon Will Bring the United States and Russia Closer in Transdniestria

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Last week, Igor Dodon met again with Vladimir Putin. The visit had a clear pre-election tone: Igor Dodon was promised investments in the infrastructure of Moldova, as he says. Therefore, everyone was surprised that upon returning home Dodon reported on the visit of his advisers, Vasilii Sova and Aurel Ciocoi, to Washington for “consultations on Transdniestrian issues”. According to the permanent RTA expert, Sergei Isaenko, the visit of Dodon’s emissaries to the American capital is directly connected with the so-called “Big Deal” between the US and Russia talked about during the past 2 years.

US and Russia Look for Common Denominator in the Transdniestrian Issue

“Every day Moscow and Washington are getting closer to the “big deal”, which outlines are already visible. Most likely, the agreement will be on normalization of bilateral relations through mutual concessions on problematic cases in Europe, the Caucasus and the Middle East. The Transdniestrian issue will be part of the upcoming deal, and therefore the White House and the Kremlin intend to compare notes on this topic. Dodon’s decision to send advisers to the United States several days after negotiations with Vladimir Putin is clearly not a coincidence. I am sure that this trip was not only agreed, but also initiated by Moscow, which wants to test the parameters of a potential agreement on Transdniestria,” said the expert. Isaenko considers erroneous the opinion that the current maneuvers of Moscow and Washington is an attempt to force the European Union out of the Transdniestrian settlement negotiations. Indeed, Brussels is in a technical knockout on the Moldovan track. The situation is that today Brussels simply does not have anyone to talk to in Moldova. The EU basically refuses to work with the ruling Democratic Party and its leader Vlad Plahotniuc until 2019 parliamentary elections. There is no reason to expect any fruitful communication with Igor Dodon and the Socialist Party either. The president will not dare to ‘annoy’ supporters, as well as Russian partners, by too close contacts with European officials. Moreover, Dodon is building his election campaign on the harsh criticism of European integration,” the analyst thinks. Despite this, Isaenko believes that the European Union should not be dismissed. “The current situation is a temporary incident. Brussels has enough leverage on many processes taking place in the Republic of Moldova, including the Transdniestrian settlement. The EU will do everything so that “Big Deal” takes into account its interests and will gain its share of fame in resolving the Moldovan-Transdniestrian conflict,” the expert adds.

Dodon as a mediator in the Russian-American negotiations

As Sergey Isaenko notes, Igor Dodon himself can receive the greatest dividends from the intentions of Moscow and Washington to bring together positions on the Transdniestrian issue. “Right now, the president is trying on the role of a mediator in Russian-American negotiations. This will give him a chance to become a key person in the Transdniestrian settlement process, especially since either of the parties does not take a dislike to him alone. Unlike Plahotniuc Dodon is not a toxic figure and almost has not spoiled political reputation. Paradoxically, his nominal position and the lack of authority here play into the hands of the president – ultimately, he is not responsible for the corruption and inefficiency of the current authorities,” the expert believes. Isaenko also stresses that the political environment in Russia, who stakes on Igor Dodon, will not miss the opportunity to further ‘pump up’ his authority. “Moscow has spent a lot of effort and resources – financial, political, media – to strengthen the image of Dodon inside the country. The role of the mediator in the Russian-American dialogue will sharply increase the prestige of the president, allowing him to permanently gain political points and increase his significance,” the analyst said. At the same time, according to Sergei Isaenko, it is risky to entrust Igor Dodon with functions of a ‘mediator’ for Russia. “No matter how compromising the figure of Dodon would look, one should not forget that he is an integral part of the existing political system of Moldova with all its party-oligarchic intricacies. In the case of successful implementation of these plans, the status of a mediator in the bargaining of world powers will seriously strengthen the position of Mr. Dodon while weakening the position of the coordinator of the ruling coalition. Therefore, interesting processes are waiting for us ahead,” Isaenko is convinced.