Transnistria is often referred to, in both Russian and Western media, as a frozen ethnic conflict. It became another of the many "black holes" throughout the former Soviet Union, regions such as Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia, where no long-term settlement has been reached and the writ of the central governments no longer run. The word "ethnic" has become a fashionable epithet of modern conflicts. However, "ethnic conflict" is an "umbrella" term, which allegedly explains everything or at least most that should be known about a particular conflict. It is a very comfortable means to describe the nature of a dispute, while overlooking the fact that besides ethnic aspects, there might be also other, no less important issues interplaying in a complex mosaic.
The present research will argue that the Transnistrian conflict is not ethnic, but primarily geopolitical. Furthermore, it broke out mainly as the result of the disproportionate interest and participation of the main political actors, and namely, the expressed interest and hyperactivity of Russia, coupled with the reluctance of the other players to interfere with what is perceived to be the Russian sphere of influence.