Those living in the self-declared Federal State of Novorossiya in eastern Ukraine might find it rewarding to visit Transnistria.

Both are Russian-speaking enclaves that aligned themselves with Moscow when their central governments began looking west. In both cases, the Russian military played a part when the secessionist movement turned violent. And both countries do not officially exist.

The main distinction is that Transnistria, a sliver of territory in eastern Moldova bordering Ukraine, went through this process 22 years ago, which is why many analysts are looking to it to predict the future of Novarossiya.

Any newly-minted Novorossiyan who opts to visit Transnistria, as I did recently, will soon discover that its status as a frozen conflict means it exists in a strange schism between the de jure and the de facto.

The schism is on immediate display at the ceasefire line in the rolling farmland on the road between the Moldovan capital, Chisinau and Tiraspol, its Transnistrian equivalent.

As befits Moldova’s assertion that Transnistria does not exist, it has no border control. The checkpoint is staffed by armed Transnistrian officials. The language abruptly changes from Moldovan to Russian.

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