Is Vladimir Putin set his sights on Moldova? Since Monday, serial explosions have sounded in Transnistria, a pro-Russian Moldavian separatist region that Moscow openly supports. Beyond the bombings, this new Russian offensive is making Moldova fear, through the voice of its president, Maya Sandu, the outbreak of war in Ukraine. 20 minutes Assess the situation in Transnistria?
Where is Transnistria located?
Transnistria is a strip of land half the size of Alsace sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. This region, with a population of about 500,000, is highly dependent on Russia, which supplies it with free gas and has 1,500 soldiers deployed there. Transnistria, whose declared independence was not recognized by the international community, seceded from Moldova after a brief civil war following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
And what is happening in Transnistria?
Authorities in Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova backed by Moscow, said there were explosions on Tuesday at a radio tower near the border with Ukraine. The Ministry of Interior said in a statement: “In the early hours of (Tuesday) April 26, two loud explosions were heard in Ma’aq village.”
The same source added that the two explosions, which did not result in casualties, hit the radio tower in this area, located about fifty kilometers north of the “capital” of Transnistria, Tiraspol. The ministry said two “powerful” antennas transmitting Russian radio frequencies had been decommissioned, and posted photos that allegedly showed transmitters lying on the ground.
On Monday, the Transnistrian authorities said that the headquarters of the Ministry of Public Security in Tiraspol was the target of a grenade launcher attack, which caused no casualties.
Why is Moldova worried?
If these two incidents did not cause any casualties, they reinforce the fear of a flood in Moldova. Maya Sandhu, the country’s president, on Tuesday called for “calm” and announced measures to bolster the country’s security. “This is an attempt to increase tensions (…) We call on our fellow citizens to remain calm and feel safe,” President Maïa Sandu stated after a meeting of the Supreme Security Council.
The pro-European Moldovan president also announced strengthening border patrols and transport controls, particularly along the Dniester River that separates Moldova from the breakaway region of Transnistria. It also called for raising the level of readiness of public order bodies. And to add: Moldova strongly condemns any attempt to destabilize the situation. »
These actions illustrate the anxiety prevailing in Moldova, a former Soviet republic that fears it will be Moscow’s next target, after Ukraine. In the aftermath of the explosions, Kyiv also accused Russia of wanting to “destabilize” Transnistria in order to be able to justify military intervention. Some analysts believe that Transnistria, where there are already 1,500 Russian soldiers, could serve as an additional bridge to the conquest of southern Ukraine, like Belarus in the north. In fact, Tiraspol is only a hundred kilometers from Odessa, the main port city in southern Ukraine that Moscow covets.
What does the Kremlin say?
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Russia is “closely monitoring” the situation in Transnistria, adding that “information from there is cause for concern.” As for the pro-Russian local authorities, it was decided to raise the alert level for two weeks to the red “alert level” for the “terror threat”, strengthening the powers of the security forces.
The military parade on May 9 in Tiraspol, to commemorate the end of World War II, was also cancelled. Finally, the pro-Russian leader of Transnistria, Vadim Krasnoselsky, confirmed that the first elements of the accident investigation were “leading to Ukraine”.