Ukraine is massing troops on the border with Transnistria

“Southern” Natalia Kuminyuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said that Ukrainian troops were concentrated near the border with Transnistria. In his opinion, the size of the forces is sufficient for a “substantial potential threat” from Russia.

On February 23, the Russian Defense Ministry said Ukraine was preparing for a provocation against Transnistria. The next day, Moscow said there was a “significant” concentration of Ukrainian military personnel and equipment on the border with Transnistria. The Russians believed this indicated preparations for Ukraine’s invasion of Transnistria.

On the same day, the Moldovan Ministry of Defense announced that it did not see any threat on the border with Ukraine. The ministry said Russia’s stance was “aimed at causing panic and confusion among people on both sides of the Dniester”.

Putin revoked the 11-year-old decree

On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin revoked the 2012 decree on Moldova’s sovereignty. According to a Kremlin statement, the decision was taken “to protect Russia’s national interests in connection with the profound changes taking place in international relations.”

Alexandru Flencia, the Moldovan head of the Joint Control Commission in the Transnistrian security zone, said that canceling the decree does not mean that Putin is abandoning the concept of Moldovan sovereignty.

– The decree is a political document that implements the concept of Russian foreign policy. Moldova and Russia share a basic political agreement that ensures mutual respect for the territorial integrity of our countries, Flenchea said.

Russia’s relations with Moldova have been strained since the Kremlin announced last week that it had approved a new pro-Western prime minister (the previous one had resigned) — which Moscow accuses Chisinau of pursuing an anti-Russian agenda.

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Biden meets Moldovan president in Poland

Squeezed between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries, has been ruled by President Mia Sandu since 2020, with strong support from the United States and the European Union. US President Joe Biden met with Sandu in Poland on Tuesday, reaffirming his support for Moldova’s sovereignty.

The 2012 decree forced Russia to seek ways to resolve the separatist issue “on the basis of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral status of the Republic of Moldova while determining the special status of Transnistria.”

The Russian-speaking population of Transnistria seceded from Moldova in 1990, a year before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, fearing that Moldova would merge with Romania, whose language and culture were largely shared.

In 1992, during a short war, Moldova rose up against the separatists. But there has been almost no violence in Transnistria in the past 30 years, and Russian “peacekeepers” still operate in this tiny territory without international recognition.

Russia divides Ukraine. Who’s next?

In December last year, Moldovan intelligence chief Alexandru Musteata said the Russian armed forces had plans to attack Moldova in 2023. According to him, the Russian invasion of this country depends on the situation on the territory of the war-torn neighboring Ukraine.

In early February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, visiting Brussels, announced that Ukrainian intelligence had intercepted Russian plans to seize power in Moldova and passed them on to the country’s president. The following day, Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita announced her resignation along with the entire government.

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Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Moldova “another Ukraine” whose president “wants to join NATO.”

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Russia warns US, NATO and Ukraine against ‘adventurous actions’

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