In the former Soviet Republic of Moldova, pro-European and pro-Russian forces are competing. Moscow has particular influence in the split-off Transnistria – and is now sending a warning to Kiev.
Russia has accused Ukraine of planning an invasion of Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria. The Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday, according to the TASS news agency, that Kiev wants to conduct a “false flag” armed operation in Transnistria in the near future.
Ukrainian soldiers and the Ukrainian Azov regiment would use a staged invasion by supposedly Russian troops as a pretext for the invasion, it said. The Ministry of Defense is ready to respond to any change on the Ukraine-Transnistria border. Russia invaded its neighbor Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Divided ex-Soviet republic
Since the 1990s, Russian soldiers have been stationed in the Transnistria region on the border with Ukraine, which was split off from Moldova. They act as so-called peacekeeping troops. The ex-Soviet Republic of Moldova is not part of NATO; it is politically divided between pro-European and pro-Russian forces.
Moldova’s secret service, on the other hand, had already accused Russia of planning an invasion in December. A period between January and April is possible. Russia intends to connect Transnistria and Moldova. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also said that Russia has concrete plans to disrupt the political order in Moldova.
The long arm of the Kremlin
The small Republic of Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and is repeatedly plagued by political instability. Prime Minister Natalia Gavriliţa handed in her resignation just two weeks ago. Russia has traditionally had a major influence in Moldova – particularly in the breakaway region of Transnistria.
In August, Russia’s Supreme Court declared the Ukrainian Azov regiment, which for weeks had defended the port city of Mariupol, which fell in mid-May, a “terrorist organization”. The nationalist regiment is consistently used by Moscow as a justification for aggressive warfare and for claims of supposedly “ridding” Ukraine of “fascists.” In fact, international experts largely agree that nationalists and right-wing extremists make up only a fraction of Ukraine’s fighters.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.