Armed clashes between Moldovan forces and Trans-Dniester secessionists (mostly Russians and Ukrainians) led to Russian army intervention on the side of the secessionists in the early 1990s, and the proclamation of a Trans-Dniester Republic, with Tiraspol as its capital. The republic has not been internationally recognized. A peace accord with the Moldovan government giving the region greater autonomy was signed in 1997.
Beyond the control of any strong national government, the region has become an international transit center for smuggled goods. Much of Moldova's industrial production is in the region; steel, cement, metal and electronic goods, textiles, and wine are produced. A Russian-sponsored peace plan for the region was rejected by Moldova in Nov., 2003, after Moldovan demonstrations against it; the deal would have permitted Russian troops to remain until 2020. Under pressure from the European Union (EU), which was concerned about the region's involvement in smuggling, Ukraine began requiring in 2006 that goods from Trans-Dniester be cleared by Moldovan customs. Trans-Dniester denounced the new rules as an economic blockade, and refused to allow cargo to cross its border with Ukraine, a move Ukraine termed a self-blockade.
A regional referendum in Sept., 2006, approved independence and eventual union with Russia. The vote, however, was rejected by Moldova, the EU, and most other nations, with the major exception of Russia, but there was little sentiment in Russia for union with the region. The leaders of Trans-Dniester and Moldova held talks in 2008 and agreed to work toward peace negotiations; further talks have been held since then. In 2014, in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea, Trans-Dniester called for Russia to annex it as well; the move was denounced by Moldova. Following Moldova's partnership agreement with the EU in June, 2014, Russia signed several agreements with Trans-Dniester and said it would seek closer ties with the region. In 2016 a Trans-Dniester decree called for the region to join Russia, in line with the 2006 referendum; the decree was rejected by Moldova.
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