Explosions in Transnistria: terror or tactics?

Status: 04/27/2022 09:04 a.m

The Republic of Moldova fears for its security and sovereignty. Does Russia also want to create a corridor to the breakaway region of Transnistria via southern Ukraine? And what role do alleged terrorist attacks play?

By Christina Nagel, ARD Studio Moscow

Not much is left of the two transmission masts that date back to Soviet times. From aerial photos circulating on social media, it looks like someone was playing Mikado. Steel girders lie all over the site near the Mayak settlement.

The authorities in the Transnistria region, which broke away from Moldova, speak of an act of terrorism. The facility, which belongs to Russia and which also broadcast Russian programs, was blown up. Explosions had shaken the state security headquarters in Tiraspol, the capital of the self-proclaimed republic.

“Such a provocation aims to destabilize the situation and make people nervous,” MP Andrei Safonov is convinced. But that’s not all, he explained on the Pervej Pridnestrovsky television station: “It’s an attempt to torpedo the successful peacekeeping mission in Transnistria.”

A frozen conflict

A mission in which Russian troops still play a key role today. It began in the early 1990s when Transnistria broke away from Moldova and declared its independence. A short, bloody civil war ensued, which ended in a truce. Transnistria became a so-called de facto regime.

There is an anthem, state structures, a state coat of arms, its own currency – even if the region still belongs to the Republic of Moldova under international law and there is no international acceptance whatsoever. Not even Russia, without whose help Transnistria could hardly survive, has recognized the autonomy of the region.

Image of determination: a mural on the headquarters of the Russian “peacekeeping forces” in Transnistria

Image: AP

Russia speaks up and warns

As a protective power, however, Moscow still feels called to the scene given the current situation. Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko warned of a scenario that would require Russian interference. There are apparently forces that are interested in creating a new focus of tension.

A danger that the President of the Republic of Moldova also sees: “It increases Transnistria’s vulnerability and creates risks for the Republic of Moldova,” explained Maia Sandu after an extraordinary session of the Security Council, and condemned “all provocations and attempts to involve the Republic of Moldova in something , which could jeopardize the peace in the country”.

According to Sandu, the analysis shows “that there are tensions between different forces within the region that are interested in destabilizing the situation.”

Moldova in a difficult situation

She is silent about who these forces could be. She has a lot to lose. Moldova is dependent on aid. On the part of the EU, which in view of the situation in Ukraine is now hoped to quickly gain accession candidate status. But also from Russia – with a view to gas supplies and the breakaway part of the country.

All sides assume that tactics are behind the terror. But which one remains open. Moscow and Tiraspol blame Ukraine. Kyiv sees Russia at work.

Maybe it’s about tying down military forces beyond Odessa and Donbass. Perhaps there are larger geostrategic considerations at stake. Maybe just about Transnistria.

Terror or Tactics? RED warning level in Transnistria, breakaway from Moldova

Christina Nagel, ARD Moscow, April 27, 2022 8:10 a.m

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