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SHOULD the UNITED STATES RECOGNIZE TRANSNISTRIA? MIGHT bring ORDER to a REGION that NEEDS IT!

I am reading with alarm about the situation in Ukraine.  Russian jets have allegedly flown over Ukrainian air space and there may be a break down in communications.  I read this from Gary Bauer’s End of Day Report (a must read for me, and recommended for you, too, even if I strongly disagree with Bauer about Ron Paul) today:

BREAKING NEWS: News outlets are reporting that Russian jets today crossed into Ukrainian airspace. Also Washington is buzzing with reports that Vladimir Putin has broken off all talks with the White House and that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel cannot get his phone calls to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu returned. Let’s see what the weekend brings, but Obama’s weakness may just push us into a war that nobody wants.

It is sobering to know there is very clear blowback to the attempt the the US and EU to set up a new government in Ukraine and overthrow the pro-Russian one.  I await the apology to the great man who once said:  “We just plain don’t mind our own business!”

Now I have been to Ukraine – eastern Ukraine at that – Krivoy Rog to be exact – and I was excited to see the faint remnants of the old Soviet system:  Monuments, statues etc from before 1991.  Now our best chance was World War II (The Great Patriotic War) monuments and they did not disappoint:  Lots of red flags, hammers and sickles, and a few other Soviet items.  On the wall of a steel plant were several Soviet medals awarded to this plant.  I think they won the Order of Lenin in 1936!  Or was it the Red Banner of Labour?  People wondered:  Was Sandy a former communist?  No, I said, worse than that – I’m a lawyer!  (The Ukrainian pastors who heard that joke laughed heartily, perhaps too heartily!)

Due to all this excess trivia about the Soviet era, my fellow mission team members nicknamed me “Red Sandy”.  Well, Red Sandy would love Transnistria!  Someone who flew into Transnistria by mistake might think he went in the Wayback machine or Dr. Emmitt Brown’s DeLorean to the before 1991 edition of the USSR!  Try this article from Der Spiegel with eight photos.

Transnistria is the only place in Europe that still uses the hammer and sickle on its flag. Now that Russia has annexed Crimea and is eyeing eastern Ukraine, many in the breakaway Moldovan republic hope that they are next on Moscow’s agenda.

***

Transnistria, located on the eastern banks of the Dniester River, has an area hardly greater than the US state of Rhode Island (or the German state of Saarland) and is home to a half-million people who see themselves as Russians, Ukrainians or Moldovans. More than anything, though, they see themselves as Soviet citizens. The breakaway region has its own military, its own constitution, a national anthem (called “We Sing the Praises of Transnistria”) and a symphony orchestra which is known abroad.

The region’s official currency, the Transnistrian ruble, is pegged to the dollar but is nevertheless treated like Monopoly money on global financial markets. The five-ruble bill is graced with a picture of the Kvint distillery in Tiraspol, honoring one of the country’s biggest exports: cognac. Other products sent overseas include bed linens, weapons, cable and workers, with the men heading east and the women going west. Putin and Obama are the main subjects of conversation.

***

Transnistria is the only place in Europe that still flies a national flag depicting the hammer and sickle — prominently displayed in the upper left corner. The country’s secret service is still called the KGB and its parliament is known as the Supreme Soviet. An enormous statue of Lenin looms above the square in front of the parliament building, his granite cape flying out behind him like that of a superhero.

So what do we do now?  It is not in the best interest of the US to allow this sort of thing to continue.  Clandestine areas with dubious governments (even though Transnistria might have the best looking Foreign Minister in our world today – maybe for all time!) need to become part of the world without sacrificing sovereignty.  Nations like Transnistria can become a home for criminality or the worst kind:  Drugs, human trafficking, maybe terrorism.  (I am trying to consider how the Gospel of Christ can be taken to Transnistria.  A place like this could be fruitful for revival.  Who would go with Red Sandy?  I speak a bit of Russian and that bit really was impressive to the Ukrainians I dealt with when I went in 2006.)

It seems apparent that, like Crimea, Transnistria wants to be part of the Russian Federation.  They clearly will never accept Moldovan authority, right or wrong.  We can renounce them.  Or condemn them.  But they will not go away.  Our condemnation still will lead to a temptation to drugs, human trafficking, maybe terrorism…

Maybe the solution is to have some sort of international plebiscite to determine the fate of the Transnistrian people.  Recognize the result.  Get Moldova to do so, too.  We also need to ratchet back the issue in the Ukraine.  Perhaps allow some face-saving for Russia in Crimea.  Maybe even a vote in the eastern regions of Ukraine.  I think most would vote to stay in Ukraine.  We need to face up to Russia and say no more.  Does this mean war?  Not necessarily…

But who can do that?  Not the President we have.  We need one who will call for a strong national defense and one who knows what will and will not be done.  We have to find a way to stop Russian aggression.  But how?  Maybe targeted sanctions?  Targeted so as to hurt the Russian ability to wage war and meddling with their neighbors?  Without being an unconstitutional bill of attainder.

I think this issue would illustrate how we need a President who respects sovereignty, the Constitution, avoids needless wars and also wants to reduce the size of government.  He also needs to believe in American Exceptionalism.  Maybe Ambassador John Bolton, perhaps?

 

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood “Sandy” Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia’s first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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