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War in Ukraine: Moldova worried after explosions in the pro-Russian region of Transnistria

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Moldova fears a spread of the Ukrainian conflict. On Tuesday, the country’s President Maia Sandu convened a national security council after a series of explosions in the separatist region of Transnistria, supported by Moscow.

On Tuesday, two detonations damaged a radio tower, knocking out two “powerful” antennas relaying Russian radio frequencies, the interior ministry of the self-proclaimed republic of Transnistria said.

The two detonations occurred in Maïak, not far from the Ukrainian border, about fifty kilometers north of the “capital” Tiraspol.

The day before, the Transnistrian authorities had claimed that the headquarters of the Ministry of Public Security in Tiraspol had been the target of an attack with a grenade launcher. Both incidents resulted in no casualties.

Russia is “closely following” the situation in Transnistria, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday, adding that “the information coming from there is causing concern”.

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The fear of a spread of the Ukrainian conflict

Moldova, a former Soviet republic, fears being Vladimir Putin’s next target after Ukraine. Relations between the Moldovan government and the Kremlin have been strained since the 2020 election of pro-European President Maia Sandu.

The concern increased last week after a Russian general claimed that Moscow wanted to seize southern Ukraine (bordering Transnistria) in order to have direct access to this separatist enclave.

General Rustam Minnekayev also considered that the Russian-speaking population of Moldova was the victim of “oppression”, one of the pretexts invoked by Moscow to invade Ukraine and “defend” the Russian minority. Moldova summoned the Russian ambassador to protest against these statements perceived as threats, calling on Moscow to respect its “territorial integrity”.

Transnistria, a territory apart

Moldova, a small Eastern European country of 2.6 million inhabitants wedged between Romania and Ukraine, is already suffering the consequences of the war in Ukraine, with the influx of more than 400,000 refugees fleeing the violence.

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Transnistria seceded from Moldova after a brief civil war following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The separatist region has its own currency and its own security forces.

This territory, which has around 500,000 inhabitants, is highly dependent on Russia, which provides it with free gas and has deployed 1,500 soldiers there.

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