Transnistria’s self-proclaimed republic – with its own constitution, military, currency and flag, but not recognized by the international community – could be drawn into Russia’s war in Ukraine.
A top Russian general said last week that the military was aiming for “complete control” over the eastern Donbass region and southern Ukraine. Access Transnistria Divided area in neighboring Moldova.
TASS quotes Maj. Gen. Rustam Minnekhov, Russia’s commander of the Central Military District, as saying that the goal is to create a land route between Donbass and Crimea. Russia merged in 2014.
On Monday, explosions took place in Traspole, the capital of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry Transnistria. Called “planned provocation” By the Russian Secret Service.
Here’s what you need to know about Transnistria, and why it’s important to Russia.
A separatist state: Transnistria is a narrow strip of land about 1,350 square miles 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 speakers.
Some history: Following the two-year war (1990-1992) that erupted during the fall of the Soviet Union, Transnistria declared independence from the former Soviet republic of Moldova.
The Russians offered to support Transnistria, but did not recognize it as an independent state. The conflict between the Moldovan government and the separatists ended in a ceasefire in 1992 – but since then about 1,500 Russian troops have been stationed in Transnistria.
Russia focuses on Transnistria: The statement by Major General Minneke, who outlined Russia’s strategy for a “second phase” war, prompted an immediate warning from Moldovan officials, who called on the Russian ambassador.
The Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Coordination has said that reports on Transnistria are “unfounded and contrary to the position of the Russian Federation supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within internationally recognized borders.”
During a meeting with the Russian ambassador, Moldovan officials reiterated that the country was a “neutral state and that this policy should be respected by all international actors, including the Russian Federation.”
Participate in battle: Some military analysts suspect that Russia plans to tilt Transnistria into logistical support – and to take advantage of its strategic position, it must establish a land route to capture the port city of Odessa along the Black Sea.
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