“We are all concerned”: after the explosions in the separatist region of Transnistria, there is unrest in Moldova – politics

The war of Russian aggression in Ukraine is very close in Moldova. The fighting in the neighboring country is disturbing the inhabitants of the small ex-Soviet republic – especially since the pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria in the east of the country has been rocked by several explosions. In the border region between Moldova, which is under the control of the central government in Chisinau, and Transnistria, which is not internationally recognized, residents are worried about the future.

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Victoria crosses the Varnita border post in Transnistria daily. The 36-year-old medical assistant lives on the Moldovan side of the border, but her job is in Transnistria. “I’m pregnant and very worried,” says Victoria. “I have never experienced such a situation before.” One thing is certain: “If things change, we will leave”.

Galina Turcanu, who runs a family business that operates on both sides of the border, is also worried. “We are all concerned,” said the 46-year-old player. For the moment, she is not thinking of leaving the country. “Our parents and all of our family are here. We’ll stay and see which way the wind blows.”

A Transnistrian soldier stands at the Varnita border crossing between Moldova and the self-proclaimed “Moldovan…Photo: AFP/Daniel Minailescu

There are great fears that the war in Ukraine will spread to other countries. Moldova is at the center of fears: the pro-Western central government in Chisinau, which like kyiv is fighting for EU membership, is a thorn in the side of the Kremlin.

Added to this are tensions around Moscow-backed Transnistria, which broke away from Moldova during the collapse of the Soviet Union. To date, about 1,500 Russian soldiers are stationed in the region directly bordering Ukraine, and Chisinau has long demanded their withdrawal.

Separatist region reports several explosions

The west was alarmed after authorities in Transnistria recently reported several explosions. As a result, the Ministry of Public Security in the regional capital Tiraspol was reportedly attacked with a grenade launcher on Monday.

The next day, authorities said, there were explosions at a radio tower on the Ukrainian border, through which Russian radio stations were broadcasting. Shots were reported from a village where Russia has an arms depot.

This image released by the Ministry of Interior of Transnistria on April 26, 2022 shows the antennas of the “Mayak” radio center,…Photo: AFP/Ministry of Interior of Transnistria

While Russia was talking about “acts of terrorism”, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) and her French colleague Jean-Yves Le Drian warned against attempts to weaken the territorial integrity of the Moldova. After a phone call, they stressed their “common determination” to support the country “in the face of the dangers of its destabilization”.

The statements of a Russian general who denounced the alleged oppression of Russian speakers in Transnistria had already caused unrest last week. Prior to invading Ukraine, Moscow made similar statements about eastern Ukrainian Donbass.

The Moldovan government is concerned

Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Serebrian did not want to portray too dramatically the danger of Russian intervention. He told France Info that recent tensions in Transnistria could stem from an “internal” conflict between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces in the region and are not necessarily an expression of “external influence”.

Nevertheless, Serebrian admitted that the situation is worrying – not only because of the geopolitical starting point, but also because of Moldova’s economic weakness. Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe. The war in Ukraine is already causing bottlenecks in the country of 2.6 million people. Added to this is the heavy dependence on gas vis-à-vis Russia.

More information about the war in Ukraine on Tagesspiegel Plus:

For locals, the war in Ukraine brings back painful memories of the armed conflict that preceded the secession of Transnistria in the early 1990s. “We don’t want something like this to happen again,” says the entrepreneur Turcanu family.

Local media have reported in recent days how precarious the situation is for many people: While many Transnistrians have applied for Russian passports in recent years, the number of people renewing their Moldovan documents has recently increased. Turcanu also prepared. The 46-year-old shows her bag: “All the passports are in there.” (AFP, Herve Bossy)

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