Tensions Surge After Attacks in Moldova’s Russia-Backed Breakaway Region
Moldova’s president said a series of attacks in the Russia-backed breakaway region of Transnistria on Tuesday were an attempt by factions within the territory to increase tensions, and the Kremlin voiced serious concern.
She spoke after Moldova’s Security Council held an urgent meeting prompted by two blasts which damaged masts that broadcast Russian radio in the region, where authorities said a military unit was also targeted.
The Moldovan authorities are sensitive to any sign of worsening security in Transnistria, an unrecognized Moscow-backed sliver of land bordering southwestern Ukraine, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine.
“From the information we have at this moment, these escalation attempts stem from factions from within the Transnistrian region who are pro-war forces and interested in destabilizing the situation in the region,” President Maia Saudu told a news conference.
She said the security council had recommended improving the combat readiness of security forces, increasing the number of patrols and checks near Moldova’s border with Transnistria, and monitoring critical infrastructure more closely.
Russia has had troops permanently based in Transnistria since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Kyiv fears the region could be used as a launch pad for new attacks on Ukraine.
“In the early morning of April 26, two explosions occurred in the village of Maiac, Grigoriopol district: the first at 6:40 and the second at 7:05,” Transnistria’s interior ministry said.
No residents were hurt, but two radio antennae that broadcast in Russian were knocked out, it said.
Separately, Transnistria’s Security Council reported a “terrorist attack” on a military unit near the city of Tiraspol, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.
It gave no further details.
KREMLIN VOICES CONCERN
Last week, a senior Russian military official said the second phase of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine included a plan to take full control of southern Ukraine and improve its access to Transnistria.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the news was a cause for serious concern and that Moscow was following events closely.
Later on Tuesday, the Russian foreign ministry said Moscow wanted to avoid a scenario in which it had to intervene in Transnistria, the RIA news agency reported.
Moldova’s Sandu described the situation as “complex and tense,” but said she had no plans to hold direct talks about it with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Tuesday’s incidents followed a number of blasts that local television reported on Monday hit Transnistria’s ministry of state security in the regional capital, Tiraspol. Local officials said the building had been fired on by unknown assailants with grenade launchers.
Transnistria’s unrecognized president’s office has ordered the terrorist threat level to be raised to red and said that checkpoints would be set up at the entrances of the region’s towns. All vehicles entering at night would be checked, it said.