Russia’s war in Ukraine: Live updates

A tour of the city council of Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, Moldova on 25 November 2021.
A tour of the city council of Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, Moldova on November 25, 2021. (Alexander Hassenstein / UEFA / Getty Images)

The self-proclaimed Republic of Transnistria – which has its own constitution, military, currency and flag, but has never been recognized by the international community – may be drawn into Russia’s war in Ukraine.

A Russian top general said last week that the military was aiming for “full control” over the eastern Donbas region and southern Ukraine – and for access to Transnistria, the breakaway area of ​​neighboring Moldova.

TASS quoted the acting head of Russia’s central military district, Major General Rustam Minnekaev, as saying that the goal was to create a land corridor between the Donbas and Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

On Monday, there were explosions in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, which Ukraine’s Defense Ministry called a “planned provocation” by Russian intelligence services.

Here’s what you need to know about Transnistria and why it’s important to Russia.

A separatist state: Transnistria is a narrow piece of land about 1,350 square kilometers in size, sandwiched between Ukraine and the rest of Moldova – only slightly larger than Rhode Island, the smallest state in the United States.

It is home to about half a million people, most of whom are Russian-speaking.

A little history: Transnistria declared independence from the former Soviet Republic of Moldova after a two-year war (1990-1992) that erupted during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Russians stepped in to support Transnistria, but never recognized it as an independent state. The conflict between the Moldovan government and the separatists ended in a ceasefire in 1992 – but about 1,500 Russian troops have remained in Transnistria since then.

Russia looks at Transnistria: The statement by Major General Minnekaev, which set out Russia’s strategy for the “second phase” of the war, immediately triggered an alarm from the Moldovan authorities, who summoned the Russian ambassador.

The statements on Transnistria are “unfounded and contrary to the position of the Russian Federation, which supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova within its internationally recognized borders,” said the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration.

It added that during the meeting with the Russian ambassador, Moldovan officials reiterated that the country was a “neutral state and that this principle must be respected by all international actors, including the Russian Federation.”

Role in the war: Some military analysts suspect that Russia plans to lean on Transnistria for logistical support – and to take advantage of its strategic position to establish a land corridor along the Black Sea to capture the port city of Odesa.

See more here:

What is Transnistria?  - CNN video

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