Transnistria row: Now Russia is eyeing an unrecognized separate region in Moldova; Why this is important for Russia?

by Shatakshi Gupta

Russia has not won the war even two months after it invaded Ukraine. In the meantime, Ukraine claims that Russia is planning an invasion of Moldova. After two terrorist bombings in Moldova’s Transnistria area, Ukraine made this accusation. Transnistria is a small region bordering Moldova with a Russian-backed administration.

Russia is expected to strike Moldova around May 9th. If this happens, Putin will try to declare Transnistria’s independence. Every year on May 9th, Russia commemorates the triumph of the Soviet Union over Germany in World War II. Russia is planning to build a corridor connecting Ukraine and Transnistria, making it easier to attack both Ukraine and Moldova.

First, know about Moldova:

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Moldova is an Eastern European country situated between Ukraine and Romania. Until 1991, it was a part of the Soviet Union. Moldova covers 34 thousand square kilometres

Moldova has a population of almost 26 lakh people distributed across 33 thousand square kilometers and 45 percent of its population lives outside the country.

Moldova is Europe’s second poorest country. The service sector accounts for 60% of Moldova’s GDP due to weak industry and agriculture. About 45 percent of Moldova’s population, or 12 to 1.5 million individuals, labor in other countries. Moldova is completely reliant on Russia for its gas needs.

Moldova’s relations with Transnistria, which broke apart from Moldova in 1992, are strained. Transnistria is a de facto Russian-controlled territory. Although the territory has not got any recognition for its sovereignty.

Now understand about Transnistria:

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Transnistria is a 4,000-square-kilometer land sandwiched between Ukraine and Moldova. On April 26, two bombs exploded in this city, causing damage to two radio stations operating in Russian. Earlier in the day, grenade launchers were used to target the security ministry building in Tiraspol.

Since its breakup from Moldova in 1992, Transnistria has been administered by a separatist administration backed by Russia. Transnistria, on the other hand, is not recognized by any country, including Russia. Transnistria has a population of 4.70 million people, with people of Russian and Ukrainian ancestry outnumbering Moldovans. Transnistria has maintained a close relationship with Russia since the outset. The majority of Russian speakers live in Transnistria.

 Russia provides free gas and provides pensions to the elderly in the country. In Transnistria, there are 1500 Russian forces, compared to 7.5 thousand local troops.

Only about 100 of the Russian soldiers stationed in Transnistria are of Russian descent; the rest are Transnistrians who have been issued Russian passports.

Russia has 20,000 tonnes of explosives stored in the Kobasan area of Transnistria, which is Eastern Europe’s largest explosion cache. Moldova is concerned that if this explodes, it may cause a larger explosion than the bombing in Beirut in 2020, which involved 2,000 tonnes of explosives and killed 218 people.

Russian aspirations regarding Moldova:

Russia is planning an invasion of Moldova to achieve three goals. First, the occupation of Moldova would allow Russia to establish a new front against Ukraine. This will allow Russian forces to advance from western Ukraine to Odessa, a Black Sea port city. From Transnistria to Odessa, the distance is only 40 kilometres. Ukraine will lose access to the Black Sea. Second, Russia will be unable to move Moldova closer to Europe as a result of this. In March 2022, Moldova sought to join the European Union. Third, Russia wants to convey a message to the West that providing more aid to Ukraine will exacerbate regional unrest.