Two months after the invasion of Ukraine, a Russian military commander indicated on Friday that Moscow aims to create a corridor through southern Ukraine to Transnistria, A breakaway republic in eastern Moldova.
“Control of southern Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also facts about the persecution of the Russian-speaking population,” said Rustam Minnikaev, acting commander of the Central Military District of Russia. According to the Russian news agency, Interfax.
It was not clear whether Minkayev’s statement reflected the Kremlin’s official position. The comment surprised some analysts, because in the early weeks of the war Russia tried and failed to advance into southwestern Ukraine – the area it would need to secure to reach the border with Transnistria.
However, this has sparked a global debate about the breakaway enclave and presents Moldova’s biggest direct challenge to date. Moldova summoned the Russian ambassador later on Friday to express “deep concern” about Minkayev’s comments.
“These statements are baseless and contradict the position of the Russian Federation in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognized borders,” the Moldovan foreign ministry said in a statement sent to the Washington Post.
Analysts say it is unlikely that the Russian military, which is embroiled in a battle for control of eastern Ukraine, will be able to carve out such a path. And although Transnistria is supported by Moscow and hosts Russian troops, this may not mean that its inhabitants want to take part in the war.
Here’s what you need to know about the breakaway republic.
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