On Thursday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed that “in the near future the Kiev regime is preparing an armed provocation against the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic [Transnistria], which will be carried out by units of the armed forces of Ukraine, including with the involvement of the nationalist formation ‘Azov.’”
“As a pretext for the invasion, it is planned to stage an alleged offensive of Russian troops from the territory of Transnistria,” the statement said, adding “To do this, the Ukrainian saboteurs participating in the staged invasion will be dressed in the uniform of the military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”
Moldovan government officials have rejected the claim, further calling for calm.
This comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin has revoked a 2012 decree that recognizes Moldova’s sovereignty in regards to Transnistria yesterday amid increased accusations from the Moldovan government that Russia seeks to destabilize the country.
The decree, which affirmed Russia’s commitment to “find a solution to the Transnistrian conflict that would respect the territorial integrity and neutrality of the Republic of Moldova in setting up a special status for Transnistria,” was annulled “In order to ensure the national interests of the Russian Federation in connection with the profound changes taking place in international relations.”
Earlier this month, the Moldovan government accused Russia of planning a coup to overthrow the government and stop the country from joining the European Union. Moldovan President Maia Sandu claimed that ““authorities are aware of plans for destabilization in Moldova for the near future… actions are planned involving military-trained saboteurs who will attack state buildings by taking hostages,” further backing assertions made by Ukraine. Likewise, Moldova has also accused Russia of planning to capture the airport in Chisinau to ferry troops for a new frontline from Transnistria. As expected, Russia has denied these claims.
Since the Transnistria War, which established the unrecognized breakaway state from Moldova in 1992, Russian forces have remained in the region as a peacekeeping force, called the Operational Group of Russian Forces in Transnistria, which currently consists of some 1,500 troops. One of their primary missions is to guard the Cobasna ammunition depot, which stores some 20,000 tons of Soviet-era weaponry. Moldova continues to call for the withdrawal of Russian forces from the region, which it considers illegitimate and illegal. Since the outbreak of the Ukraine Civil War and the annexation of Crimea in 2014, there has been increasing support by Transnistria’s ethnic Russian population for annexation by Russia.