A string of unexplained explosions in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria has raised fears that President Vladimir Putin could have plans for his war beyond Ukraine.
A Russian general appeared to suggest that the pro-Russian enclave, which borders Ukraine, could be in the Kremlin’s sights.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Russia wants to capture other countries.
1. WHERE IS TRANSNISTRIA?
It is a sliver of land that runs roughly between the Dniester river in eastern Moldova and Ukraine.
It covers about 4,160 sq km, or about 12 per cent of the territory of Moldova, Europe’s poorest country.
The mainly Russian-speaking enclave is home to fewer than 500,000 people; the rest of Moldova has about 2.6 million.
2. WHAT IS THE HISTORY?
Moldova, including Transnistria, used to be a republic in the Soviet Union.
Even before the USSR collapsed in 1991, Transnistria wanted to remain part of the dying confederation as its own republic, so it declared independence from Moldova in 1990 – a move that wasn’t recognised by the USSR at the time.
In 1992, Transnistria fought a war with Moldova, which had declared its own sovereignty the year before. No United Nations member has recognised Transnistria’s independence, not even Russia.
Russian troops have been in Transnistria since the early 1990s, with their main tasks, according to Moscow, being peacekeeping and protecting ammunition depots.
Russian troops remain in the region despite calls by Moldova’s President Maia Sandu for them to leave.
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