Ministry of Internal Affairs of Transnistria/AP
KYIV, Ukraine — The president of Transnistria, a self-proclaimed independent republic occupied by Russia, says his government has traced recent attacks to Ukraine, according to Russian state media. President Vadim Krasnoselsky has asked kyiv to investigate what he calls the infiltration of Transnistria by Ukrainian militant groups.
Krasnoselsky was referring to the explosions that brought down two radio towers broadcasting in Russian on Tuesday morning and what authorities called a “terrorist attack” on a military unit near the Transnistrian capital Tiraspol.
On Monday, the Transnistrian authorities also reported a series of explosions at the Ministry of State Security. They attributed the damage to rocket-propelled grenade launchers. There were no reports of injuries in any of the attacks.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry described the recent attacks as “false flag” operations organized by Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB. The purpose, they say, is to create panic and provide a potential pretext for mobilizing Russian troops in Transnistria to attack Ukraine.
Transnistria, part of the former Soviet Republic of Moldova, usually doesn’t get much attention. But political and military leaders in Europe are watching it closely because it is home to some 1,500 Russian soldiers and shares a 250-mile border with Ukraine.
Transnistria was separated from Moldova in the early 1990s amid the collapse of the Soviet Union. The territory, which was loyal to the USSR, fought a short war with the Moldovan troops. Russian soldiers intervened on the Transnistrian side and the fighting forces reached a ceasefire in 1992.
Transnistria declared itself a republic, although it remains unrecognized internationally, not even by Russia. Last month, the Council of Europe described Transnistria as Russian-occupied territory. Moscow insists that its forces are peacekeeping troops.
Recently, a senior Russian military official, Major General Rustam Minnekayev, claimed that Moscow’s military goals now include control of all of southern Ukraine, a move that Minnekayev said would allow Russian forces to provide additional protection to Russian-speakers facing “oppression” in Russia. Transnistria.
While it was unclear whether Minnekayev’s comments reflected official government policy, the Moldovan Foreign Ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador to express “deep concern” over the incident.
US military officials doubt that Russia has the military capacity to expand its forces through southern Ukraine into the breakaway region of Moldova.
Charles Maynes contributed reporting to this story.
This story originally appeared in the morning edition live blog