It’s over a week old, but I’ve just discovered an intriguing article on Michael Averko’s blog. In a wide ranging discussion about disputed territories in Europe Averko drops in a snippet about the functionally independent Pridnistrovie region (also known as Transnistria or Transdniestria), which is widely recognised internationally as part of Moldova.
Apparently opponents of President Yanukovych are keen to foster the idea that a surreptitious agreement has been struck, between Kiev and Moscow, to absorb Pridnistrovie into Ukraine. It's new to me, but it certainly fits the favoured narrative of a resurgent Russia, seeking to win back, territory by territory, its Soviet sphere of influence.
Averko points out glaring inconsistencies in a theory which is almost certainly designed to smear Yanukovych. Neither Russia nor Ukraine support Pridistrovian independence and Moscow has already knocked back a suggestion, popularly endorsed by referendum in the territory, that the breakaway region should become part of Russia. As a solution, it would make no sense for either Ukraine or Russia, and it wouldn't be endorsed by a majority of Transnistrians.
He does however imply that the idea could be a useful lever to achieve an enduring settlement in Moldova. Perhaps the notion that absorption into Ukraine is a serious option could persuade Chisinau to grant Pridnistrovie substantial autonomy under a federal system.
In other words, could Russia and Yanukovych turn a conspiracy theory designed to attack them to their own ends?