Separatists in Transnistria seek “protection” from Moldova – Moscow sees “priority”

Pretext for new escalation?
Separatist Republic of Transnistria asks for “protection” from Moldova – Moscow sees “priority”

A Moldovan soldier stands guard at the border crossing with the separatist republic of Transnistria

© Imago Images

The leadership of the separatist republic of Transnistria has apparently asked the Kremlin for “protection” from the Republic of Moldova, Russian agencies report. This could give Moscow an excuse to invade Moldova.

At a special congress on Wednesday, the authorities of the separatist republic of Transnistria approved a declaration in which they asked Russia for “protection” from Moldova. This is reported by Russian news agencies and local media. According to the resolution, Moscow is asked to “take measures to defend Transnistria in the face of increasing pressure from Moldova.” What exactly they expect from Russia was not initially clear.

The answer came promptly from Moscow: Russian news agencies quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying that “protecting the interests of the residents of Transnistria, our compatriots, is one of the priorities.”

In Moldova, which lies between Ukraine and Romania, this news is likely to fuel fears of Russian aggression on its territory – especially because Russia has already stationed its own soldiers in Transnistria for decades. In 1992, separatists fought the pro-Western Moldovan government in a brief civil war that left hundreds dead. Transnistria now has its own currency, security forces and passports.

Around 1,500 Russian soldiers are stationed in the area that belongs to Moldova under international law. Most people in Transnistria are Russian-speaking, and many of them also have Moldovan, Russian or Ukrainian citizenship.

450,000 people live in Transnistria

Moscow, in turn, supports the region, in which around 465,000 people live, economically and politically – including with free gas deliveries. However, since the conflict with Ukraine, the connection between Russia and Transnistria has been severely affected.

In recent months there have been repeated signs of growing tension in the conflict over Transnistria. In 2022, several explosions with unknown causes rocked the area. In March 2023, the leadership of the pro-Russian separatists declared that Ukraine had carried out a failed assassination attempt against their leader. Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry finally declared that Ukraine was planning a military attack on Transnistria – but provided no evidence of this.


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