Understand everything about the explosions in Transnistria which raise fears of an overflow of the war in Ukraine

Does Vladimir Putin have his sights set on Moldova? Since Monday, serial explosions have sounded in Transnistria, a separatist pro-Russian Moldavian region openly supported by Moscow. Beyond the detonations, this new Soviet offensive makes Moldova fear, through the voice of its president Maia Sandu, an overflow of the war in Ukraine. 20 minutes take stock of the situation in Transnistria?

Where is Transnistria?

Transnistria is a strip of land half the size of Alsace wedged between Moldova and Ukraine. This territory, which has around 500,000 inhabitants, is highly dependent on Russia, which provides it with free gas and has deployed 1,500 soldiers there. Transnistria, whose self-declared independence is not recognized by the international community, seceded from Moldova after a brief civil war in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Transnistria, a thin strip of land between Moldova and Ukraine. – 20 Minutes/Google Maps

And what is happening in Transnistria?

Authorities in Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova backed by Moscow, said explosions occurred Tuesday at a radio tower near the border with Ukraine. “Early on (Tuesday) April 26, two explosions were heard in the village of Maïak,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The two detonations, which did not cause any casualties, hit the radio tower of this locality located about fifty kilometers north of the “capital” of Transnistria, Tiraspol, added the same source. Two “powerful” antennas that relayed Russian radio frequencies were taken out of service, the ministry said, posting photos purporting to show the transmitters lying on the ground.

Authorities in Transdniestria said explosions occurred on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at a radio tower near the border with Ukraine.
Authorities in Transdniestria said explosions occurred on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at a radio tower near the border with Ukraine. – Handout / Transnistrian Interior Ministry / AFP

On Monday, the authorities of Transnistria said that the headquarters of the Ministry of Public Security in Tiraspol had been the target of an attack with a grenade launcher which did not cause any injuries.

Why is Moldova worried?

If these two incidents did not cause any casualties, they reinforce the fear of an overflow in Moldova. Maia Sandu, the country’s president, appealed on Tuesday for “calm” and announced measures to strengthen the country’s security. “This is an attempt to increase tensions (…) We call on our fellow citizens to remain calm and to feel safe,” declared President Maïa Sandu after a meeting of the Supreme Security Council.

The pro-European Moldovan president also announced a strengthening of border patrols and transport controls, in particular along the Dniester river which separates Moldova from the separatist territory of Transnistria. She also called for increasing the level of preparedness of public order bodies. And to add: “Moldova strongly condemns any attempt to destabilize the situation. »

These measures illustrate the concern that reigns in Moldova, a former Soviet republic which fears to be the next target of Moscow, after Ukraine, a neighboring country where Russia has been leading a military offensive for more than two months. In the wake of the explosions, kyiv also accused Russia of wanting to “destabilize” Transdniestria in order to be able to justify a military intervention. Some analysts believe that Transnistria, where 1,500 Russian soldiers are already present, could serve as an additional bridgehead for the invasion of southern Ukraine, like Belarus for the North. Tiraspol is only a hundred kilometers from Odessa, the major port city in southern Ukraine coveted by Moscow.

What does the Kremlin say?

Russia is “closely following” the situation in Transnistria, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday, adding that “the information coming from there is causing concern”. As for the local, pro-Russian authorities, they have decided to raise the alert level for a fortnight “an alert level + red + to the terrorist threat”, thus strengthening the powers of the security forces.

The May 9 military parade in Tiraspol, commemorating the end of World War II, has also been cancelled. Finally, the pro-Russian leader of Transnistria, Vadim Krasnosselski, further assured that the first elements of the investigation into the incidents “lead to Ukraine”.

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