I see that the western press is almost completely ignoring the developing situation in Transdniestr, despite the huge ramifications involved.
With the election of Viktor Yushchenko in early 2005, Ukraine has steadily allied itself with the west, including the United States. And the west believes that Russia is illegally maintaining military bases in three autonomies in Europe, including Transdniestr, which is the primary stumbling block towards the signing and ratification of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. To put it bluntly, the west wants Transdniestr to do what Adjara did in 2004 (in Georgia), which is acquiesce to Moldovan central government, perhaps in the form of some lind of limited autonomy in a federation.
This issue shifted last week when Moldova and Ukraine implemented new customs regulations, requiring all Transdniestr goods (that are being exported) to carry a Moldovan tax stamp. In other words, Transdniestr must pay taxes to Moldova to export its goods, which of course angered the Transdniestrians. At first Igor Smirnov believed that Ukrainian president Yushchenko must be “poorly informed” on the new regulations, implying Yushchenko would never implement them if “only he knew” about them.