The next hot spot concern in Europe after Ukraine 0The next hot spot concern in Europe after Ukraine 0

(Dan Tri) – Concerns are growing that the breakaway region of Transnistria in Moldova’s east could be drawn into the conflict in neighboring Ukraine.

Central square in Tiraspol, capital of Transnistria (Photo: Elpais).

The border guard in Russian uniform held out his hand as the truck driver handed over his passport and other documents, a protocol that would have been completely normal and unnoticeable, except that it was taking place far from a war zone.

That is Transnistria, a narrow strip of land running along the Ukraine-Moldova border, where it is estimated that there are 20,000 tons of Soviet-era weapons, ammunition and explosives and more than 1,000 Russian soldiers stationed as peacekeepers.

Moldova has long feared that Russia would use Transnistria as a route to launch a military campaign from the east into Ukraine or west into Moldova.

`That’s the reality we’re seeing. That’s what really worries a lot of people,` said Olena Khorenjenko, 33, a Ukrainian refugee in Moldova.

On the night of April 25, grenades and rockets were fired at a government building in Tiraspol – the capital of the separatist region.

Multiple explosions on April 26 destroyed two radio towers in the town of Mayak, which were broadcasting Russian radio signals to Transnistria.

Authorities have called the incidents `terrorist attacks` and placed the territory of the breakaway region of Transnistria on high alert.

The explosions came days after a senior Russian commander announced that Russian speakers in Moldova were being severely suppressed.

The Ukrainian army late on April 26 warned that the Russian army in Transnistria `has been placed in a state of complete combat readiness`.

Concerns about new hot spots

The next hot spot concern in Europe after Ukraine

Transnistria breakaway region, bordering Ukraine (Photo:

President Volodymyr Zelensky once publicly expressed concern that Russian soldiers in Transnistria could attack Ukraine from the west.

In fact, very few Moldovans travel to the area due to various concerns.

Russian soldiers were there mainly to guard ammunition depots, which were left behind after Soviet troops withdrew from Europe at the end of World War II, and to protect a steel foundry in the area.

Transnistria unilaterally separated from Moldova during the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, and the region is home to people with ties to Russia, Romania and Moldova.

The United Nations does not recognize Transnistria as an independent state and still considers it part of Moldova.

Moldova officials have long taken a cautious approach to Transnistria, wary of Russia.

During the conflict with Ukraine, Moscow could use Transnistria as a place to provide medical and food support, escort convoys, and protect the railway network.

Recently, a Russian military official surprised everyone by suggesting that Moscow could establish a corridor connecting southern Ukraine to Transnistria, although no senior official officially confirmed this.

`Controlling southern Ukraine will be another road leading to Transnistria, where in fact there is also a phenomenon of Russian speakers being oppressed,` said General Rustam Minnekaev, acting commander of Russia’s Central Military District.

Mr. Minnekaev’s statement caused Moldova to react harshly and raised controversy and concerns about the fate of this strip of land.

During a press conference on April 26, Moldova President Maia Sandu reiterated her long-standing commitment to a peaceful relationship with Transnistria.

Immediately after Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine, the President of Moldova officially applied to join the European Union (EU), a move that seeks military security guarantees for this small country if it is attacked.

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