A woman stands in the centre of Tiraspol, holding a No War sign. Public opinion about the war remains divided: there are between 100,000 and 120,000 Ukrainians living in the region, but ties with Russia are strong.
A woman stands in the centre of Tiraspol, holding a No War sign. Public opinion about the war remains divided: there are between 100,000 and 120,000 Ukrainians living in the region, but ties with Russia are strong. © Alexander Udodov
Tents and temporary sanitary facilities were set up at Kuchurgan-Pervomaisk, the main crossing point between Transnistria and Ukraine, in Odesa region. Ukraine shut its side of the border on February 28.
Tents and temporary sanitary facilities were set up at Kuchurgan-Pervomaisk, the main crossing point between Transnistria and Ukraine, in Odesa region. Ukraine shut its side of the border on February 28. © Alexander Udodov
The Transnistrian side of the now-closed Kuchurgan-Pervomaisk crossing point with Ukraine. The closest village on the other side is Mayak, about three kilometres away. Transnistria has welcomed up to 6,000 refugees.
The Transnistrian side of the now-closed Kuchurgan-Pervomaisk crossing point with Ukraine. The closest village on the other side is Mayak, about three kilometres away. Transnistria has welcomed up to 6,000 refugees. © Alexander Udodov
Food and basic items to be distributed to Ukrainian refugees in Palanca, a Moldovan village about 65 km from the Black Sea port of Odesa.
Food and basic items to be distributed to Ukrainian refugees in Palanca, a Moldovan village about 65 km from the Black Sea port of Odesa. © Alexander Udodov
A sign says No War in a Tiraspol apartment hosting refugees from Ukraine. Authorities have allocated temporary housing for Ukrainians crossing into Transnistria, with many residents making their homes available.
A sign says No War in a Tiraspol apartment hosting refugees from Ukraine. Authorities have allocated temporary housing for Ukrainians crossing into Transnistria, with many residents making their homes available. © Alexander Udodov
Job advertisements to work in Moscow and other Russian cities are an everyday sight in Transnistria. An estimated one third of the territory’s residents work in Russia. Leaflets offering jobs in Poland are also becoming more common.
Job advertisements to work in Moscow and other Russian cities are an everyday sight in Transnistria. An estimated one third of the territory’s residents work in Russia. Leaflets offering jobs in Poland are also becoming more common. © Alexander Udodov
A Russian flag painted on an apartment block in a residential area. Ties with Russia are profound, and Russians are about 29 per cent of the region’s 473,000 residents, making them the largest group.
A Russian flag painted on an apartment block in a residential area. Ties with Russia are profound, and Russians are about 29 per cent of the region’s 473,000 residents, making them the largest group. © Alexander Udodov
A supermarket belonging to Sheriff Ltd, the region’s largest holding. The company, created in the mid-1990s by Viktor Gusan and Ilya Kazmaly, is said to control 60 per cent of the economy. It comprises supermarkets, gas stations, hotels, a mobile phone network, bakeries and a distillery as well as a mini media empire of radio and TV stations.
A supermarket belonging to Sheriff Ltd, the region’s largest holding. The company, created in the mid-1990s by Viktor Gusan and Ilya Kazmaly, is said to control 60 per cent of the economy. It comprises supermarkets, gas stations, hotels, a mobile phone network, bakeries and a distillery as well as a mini media empire of radio and TV stations. © Alexander Udodov
An old woman begs in central Tiraspol by the equestrian monument dedicated to Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov, the Russian general who founded the city in 1792. Poverty is high, particularly among old people, and low salaries push hundreds out of the region every year in search of jobs.
An old woman begs in central Tiraspol by the equestrian monument dedicated to Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov, the Russian general who founded the city in 1792. Poverty is high, particularly among old people, and low salaries push hundreds out of the region every year in search of jobs. © Alexander Udodov
A lone musician busks in the centre of Tiraspol by a sign indicating that all the money raised will be donated to refugee assistance.
A lone musician busks in the centre of Tiraspol by a sign indicating that all the money raised will be donated to refugee assistance. © Alexander Udodov
A billboard reads Transnistria is Founded to Live on the flag of the breakaway republic, the only one in the world that still bears the hammer and sickle insignia. The banner marks the 30th anniversary of the de facto authorities’ declaration of independence, on September 2, 1990.
A billboard reads Transnistria is Founded to Live on the flag of the breakaway republic, the only one in the world that still bears the hammer and sickle insignia. The banner marks the 30th anniversary of the de facto authorities’ declaration of independence, on September 2, 1990. © Alexander Udodov
The entrance of one of Russia’s two military bases in the region. There is also another base in the city of Bender, but ordinary people do not have access to it.
The entrance of one of Russia’s two military bases in the region. There is also another base in the city of Bender, but ordinary people do not have access to it. © Alexander Udodov
The officers’ quarters of the Russian army in Tiraspol.
The officers’ quarters of the Russian army in Tiraspol. © Alexander Udodov
People queue at the cash machine of one of the branches of the Russian Sberbank bank in Tiraspol.
People queue at the cash machine of one of the branches of the Russian Sberbank bank in Tiraspol. © Alexander Udodov
A woman wears a mask on a bus in Tiraspol. The region has been supplied with Covid-19 vaccines from both the Russian Federation and Moldova. The authorities offer vaccines to Ukrainian refugees who have not been immunised.
A woman wears a mask on a bus in Tiraspol. The region has been supplied with Covid-19 vaccines from both the Russian Federation and Moldova. The authorities offer vaccines to Ukrainian refugees who have not been immunised. © Alexandru Vengher
An elderly woman wears a mask on a bus in Tiraspol.
An elderly woman wears a mask on a bus in Tiraspol. © Alexandru Vengher
A bust of Lenin sits in front of the House of Soviets, one of Tiraspol’s landmarks and home to the city’s de facto local authorities. Built in the 1950s, the four-storey building features a massive ten-column portico.
A bust of Lenin sits in front of the House of Soviets, one of Tiraspol’s landmarks and home to the city’s de facto local authorities. Built in the 1950s, the four-storey building features a massive ten-column portico. © Alexander Udodov
An imperious statue of Lenin guards Transnistria’s Brutalist de facto parliament in Tiraspol.
An imperious statue of Lenin guards Transnistria’s Brutalist de facto parliament in Tiraspol. © Alexander Udodov
A bust of Lenin in front of an administrative building in Tiraspol, with the territory’s red-green-red flag. Featuring a golden hammer and sickle, it was the official flag of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic until the fall of the USSR and was adopted by the region in 2000.
A bust of Lenin in front of an administrative building in Tiraspol, with the territory’s red-green-red flag. Featuring a golden hammer and sickle, it was the official flag of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic until the fall of the USSR and was adopted by the region in 2000. © Alexander Udodov

Ukrainians Seek Refuge in Transnistria

With ties to both Russia and Ukraine, Tiraspol commits to support those fleeing conflict while neither endorsing nor condemning the war.

Tuesday, 15 March, 2022

Transnistria’s residents have so far welcomed some 6,000 Ukrainian refugees, as the de facto authorities try to maintain a neutral stance over the war unfolding next door.

The region has strong ties with Russia, which maintains between 1,500 and 2,000 troops on the territory and is seen as a security guarantor since the thin strip of land between Moldova and the Ukrainian border secured de-facto independence from Moldova in 1992.

Links with Ukraine are also solid. The country shares a 400km border with Transnistria and is the region’s main trading partner. Ukrainians make up about one fifth of the region’s 473,000 people.

The political leadership neither endorsed nor condemned the war, merely claiming that the situation in the region remained stable and committing to support those fleeing Ukraine. Public opinion is divided, with many stating that Moscow acted in response to Kyiv’s actions in Donbas, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-armed separatists.

Photos by Alexander Udodov and Alexandru Vengher.

This publication was prepared under the “Countering Disinformation in Moldova Project”, implemented with the support of the United Kingdom's Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

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