Moldova Explosions Raise Fears Separatist Region Could be Drawn into Ukraine War

Moldova Explosions Raise Fears Separatist Region Could be Drawn into Ukraine War
Toppled Pridnestrovian radio center antennas, also known as "Grigoriopol transmitter," following the blasts, near Maiac, Grigoriopol, in the Transnistria region, on April 26, 2022. (Transdniestrian Interior Ministry/Handout via Reuters)
Isabel van Brugen

Attacks in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria have raised concerns that Russia will drag the area into the Ukraine war.

The area borders western Ukraine and is controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Russia has permanently stationed some 1,500 troops in the unrecognized sliver of land since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Transnistria's Interior Ministry said explosions damaged two radio masts that broadcast in Russian in the village of Mayak 30 miles north of the capital Tiraspol at around around 7 a.m. Tuesday, and that one of its military units had been attacked.

In response, authorities in Transnistria blamed Ukraine, raised the area's "terrorist" threat level to red, and introduced checkpoints around its towns.

Vadim Krasnoselsky, the self-styled president of Transnistria, was quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency as saying, "The traces of these attacks lead to Ukraine.”

"I assume that those who organized this attack have the purpose of dragging Transnistria into the conflict,” Krasnoselsky reportedly said.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said he believes the explosions could be “false flag” attacks from Russia to justify expanding conflict in the region.

Rinkevics said the attacks bear similarity to those in eastern Ukraine at the beginning of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

In announcing his so-called “special military operation” on Feb. 24, Putin accused Ukraine of killing Russian speakers in the Donbas region, where Moscow-backed rebel separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian government since 2014, with the annexation of Crimea.

Rinkevics told reporters in Madrid that he was "very worried” by the explosions in Transnistria on Tuesday.

”I remember before Feb. 21, there have been some series of 'false flag' operations in the Donbas region, so-called people's republics, that were used as the pretext by Russia to recognize and then to sign the so-called friendship and assistance treaties and then to start the military operation," Rinkevics said.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said Ukraine "resolutely supports Moldova's territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and condemns attempts to draw the Transnistria region of Moldova into the full-fledged war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine and call for deescalating tensions.”

Ukraine fears the region could be used as a launch pad for new attacks. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blamed Moscow, saying Russia was showing Moldova what to expect if it continued to support Kyiv.

"We have seen that another step is being planned by the Russian Federation ... it is clear why, really, to destabilize the situation in the region," he told a news conference with the visiting head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Epoch Times has contacted Russia’s foreign ministry for comment.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.