The self-proclaimed Transnistrian Republic – which has its own constitution, army, currency and flag but was never recognized by the international community – could be drawn into the Russian war in Ukraine.
A senior Russian general said last week that the military aims to “complete control” of the eastern Donbass region and southern Ukraine – and to… Arrival in Transnistria, The breakaway region of the neighboring country is Moldova.
TASS quoted the acting commander of Russia’s Central Military District, Major General Rustam Minnikaev, as saying that the goal was to create a land corridor between Donbass and Crimea. Russia annexed in 2014.
On Monday, there were explosions in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, which belongs to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine called “planned provocation” by Russian intelligence.
Here’s what you need to know about Transnistria, and why it’s important to Russia.
Separatist state Transnistria is a narrow piece of land measuring about 1,350 square miles, sandwiched between Ukraine and the rest of Moldova—slightly larger than Rhode Island, the smallest state in the United States.
It is home to about half a million people, most of whom are Russian-speaking.
Some history: Transnistria declared its independence from the former Soviet Republic of Moldova after a two-year war (1990-1992) that broke out during the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Russians intervened to support Transnistria, but they did not recognize it as an independent state. The conflict between the Moldovan government and the separatists ended with a ceasefire in 1992 – but about 1,500 Russian soldiers have remained in Transnistria since then.
Russia looks to Transnistria: The statement of Major General Menekaev, who laid out Russia’s strategy for the “second stage” of the war, immediately aroused the concern of the Moldovan authorities, who summoned the Russian ambassador.
The Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration said the statements about Transnistria “are baseless and contradict the Russian Federation’s position in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognized borders.”
She added that during the meeting with the Russian ambassador, officials in Moldova emphasized that the country is “a neutral country and this principle must be respected by all international parties, including the Russian Federation.”
Role in the war: Some military analysts suspect that Russia plans to rely on Transnistria for logistical support – and to take advantage of its strategic location, to create a land corridor along the Black Sea to seize the port of Odessa.
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