The U.S. politician Tip O’Neill is credited with the phrase “all politics is local.” UK prime minister Neville Chamberlain, too, discovered the global reach of local politics, admitting on the eve of the Second World War that it was “horrible, fantastic, incredible . . . that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.” Most of us know nothing of the Moldova/Transdniestria conflict,1 and in general those who do find it “fantastic, incredible” that it might have serious geopolitical implications. Transdniestria has been the most relaxed of the “frozen” conflicts arising from the Soviet Union’s collapse. There has been no credible threat of renewed hostilities. The two sides—Moldova on the right bank of the Dniestr/Nistru River and the separatist region of Transdniestria on the left bank—are in…

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