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Destabilization in Transnistria: why Moldova’s fate depends on Ukraine

Reports of explosions and shootings in Transnistria, the unrecognized region of Moldova artificially created by Russia, raise fears that the war in Ukraine could spread beyond its borders.

The incidents took place in Tiraspol, Maiac, Parcani, and Cobasna. Sky News reminds.

Transnistria, with a population of about 470,000 people, has been under the control of separatist authorities since a 1992 war with Moldova. It began under the same pretext as the war in Ukraine — "protection of the Russian-speaking population." It is home to a regiment of around 1,000 Russian soldiers.

The region's independence is not recognized by the pro-Western government of Moldova or the international community.

Explosions and shelling from grenade launchers in Transnistria

Photo: t.me/pervyypmr

Photo: t.me/pervyypmr

The publication recalls that on April 25, the Transnistrian authorities reported an explosion at the state security headquarters in Tiraspol. Photos shared on Twitter by the Ministry of Internal Affairs show emergency services at the scene. Smoke can be seen coming from the building's broken windows.

Also, a local news provider published this watermarked footage which appears to be CCTV footage of the attack.

Sky News has verified the location in the video matches the scene of the incident. It appears to show two men using launchers to fire at the building. Photos from the scene show discarded remnants of launchers. Weapons experts believe they are both single-shot rocket launchers, an RPG-22 and an RShG-1.

The following day, explosions reportedly hit two targets. One was a military unit in Parcani. The second was an attack on two radio masts in nearby Maiac.

Who carried out terrorist attacks in Transnistria

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

On Wednesday, April 27, the interior ministry claimed several drones which were launched from Ukraine flew over Cobasna. It continued to say:

Quote"Shots were fired from the Ukrainian side in the direction of Cobasna."

The statement highlighted that the area is the site of one of the largest ammunition depots in Europe.

Transnistria's unrecognized president's office announced a series of measures in response. This included new checkpoints, increased powers for law enforcement agencies, as well as checks on vehicles and people.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Pro-Russian separatists in Transnistria have pointed fingers at Ukraine, and the Moldovan government has accused the Transnistrians of trying to destabilize the situation.

War in Moldova: Future depends on Ukraine

Photo: publika.md

Photo: publika.md

There is deep concern in Moldova not only that the Ukraine conflict could spill over here but that the future of Moldova as a county could be in jeopardy.

The county's former deputy prime minister has told Sky News that Moldova's future is dependent on Ukraine's resistance against Russia.

Vlad Kulminski, who was also responsible for negotiations on Transnistria until November 2021, states that the country's future is dependent on Ukraine's resistance against Russia. According to him, people are deeply concerned.

Quote"Our future as an independent state does depend to a great degree on how successful Ukraine is in fighting for its independence and resisting and ultimately surviving as an independent state," Kulminski stressed.

According to him, it's very important for everybody who is involved in this process to remain calm and think about the next steps and to think about what the Moldovan government can do to prevent the country from getting dragged into the war.

Kulminski stressed that the country is in a state of weakness and doesn't really have the capacity to resist on its own.

At the same time, The Page has found out from personal surveys of Moldovan citizens that not everyone believes that a war on the territory of the country is possible. This is quite similar to the mood of the Ukrainians before the invasion of February 24, 2022 — many could not grasp the fact that Russia would decide on a full-scale war on all fronts, especially from the north.

Also, some citizens say that they don’t really think about this issue yet, because, unlike Ukraine, they have May holidays, and they are busy — some with vegetable gardens and commemorative events, some with their vacations.

At the same time, this is not a full-fledged opinion poll, and it does not cancel the anxious mood of those who closely follow the news from Ukraine and the unrecognized Transnistria.

For example, photos by Getty Images show a line of cars with people leaving the territory of the self-proclaimed region and heading to Moldova.

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Some people also left for Ukraine, including from the controlled part of the country through Transnistria.

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Conflict between Moldova and Transnistria: 30 years close to Russian soldiers

The frozen conflict between Moldova and Transnistria is 30 years old in May 2022.

Russian soldiers acting as self-proclaimed peacekeepers man the border posts between Moldova proper and the self-styled "republic of Transnistria".

The concept of neutrality is written into Moldova's constitution. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine it sought fast-track membership to the European Union, something that is unlikely to be accepted for many years, Western journalists believe.

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

At the same time, Moldova has not sought any military protection from the West because it has no proper functioning army and so even if it asked for Western weapons it would not have the ability to use them.

Kulminski believes that the path to preserving the state relies on calm heads and dialogue between the EU, Moldovan politicians who are themselves divided, and leaders of the so-called Transnistrian republic.

Quote"Moldova is very closely communicating and coordinating with the European Union, with the countries that want to help Moldova," he said.

The politician added that he sees overwhelming interest and support from the West.

Quote"This is a very important factor. We feel this support. Primarily today I think a more important problem for Moldova is internal stability and resilience. Internally it is a little bit of a divided country. So it's really important to keep things calm and quiet and not to provoke any tensions within Moldova," he summed up.

OSCE mission to Tiraspol and Chisinau

Photo: twitter.com/OSCEMoldova

Photo: twitter.com/OSCEMoldova

If one monitors the English-language media, apart from calls to its citizens, for example, those of Israel, to leave Transnistria, there is still no such attention paid to the latest events in Moldova as to the events in Ukraine. Probably, the West is still monitoring the situation. From their propaganda side, the theme of shelling of the unrecognized region allegedly by Ukraine is, of course, inflated by the Russian media.

At the same time, a special OSCE mission paid on a two-day visit to Moldova, according to the organization's website.

The mission's Ambassadors conveyed a message of strong support for stabilizing the situation in the country through peaceful dialogue. In addition to the meetings in Chisinau, the OSCE representatives also visited Tiraspol.

The Ambassadors urged all parties to remain calm, show restraint and avoid any rhetoric or action that could undermine trust and stability on both sides of the Dniester River.

Kyiv urges not to drag Transnistria into war

Photo: facebook.com/oleg.nikolenko.50

Photo: facebook.com/oleg.nikolenko.50

Official Kyiv also responded to the situation. The Foreign Ministry noted that the wave of reports on April 21-26 about the developments in Transnistria coincided with Russia's statements about its intention to seize the entire south of Ukraine and establish a land corridor with unrecognized Transnistria.

Quote"Ukraine strongly supports Moldova’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We condemn attempts to drag Moldova’s Transnistria region into Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. We call for an immediate de-escalation of tensions," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko stated.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, for its part, noted that in the territory of the Transnistrian region of Moldova, the units of the operational group of Russian troops were put on full combat readiness, and the security forces were on heavy security.

Conclusions. So far, the situation with Moldova and Transnistria remains uncertain. Given what the authorities of the neighboring state say, they will in no way be able to stop the escalation of the war with Ukraine from the Russian-controlled Transnistria.

Whether the Russians will try to open a second front and also seize the territory of Moldova is unknown, given that they do not use the logic of military strategies. The latter is very evident from their attempts to seize Ukrainian territories.

That is, on the one hand, such an offensive, specifically towards the territory controlled by Chisinau, is illogical and resource-intensive, even despite the fact that Moldova doesn’t have a serious army.

On the other hand, Putin's left heel may wish for military success two days before the "victory day", as it did not happen with Kyiv 2.5 months before. Serious success is not yet visible even in Donbas.

In this situation, Ukraine can only take into account the risks of an offensive from the south and defend itself in case of an invasion from the territory of Moldova. And also to bear in mind for future reference that jokes about "after the victory, Ukraine will have to make its Lend-Lease for Transnistria" may not be just jokes after all.

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