Moldova expresses “deep turmoil” following statements by a Russian general to occupy all of southern Ukraine and build a land bridge to the breakaway republic of Transnistria in eastern Moldova.
When Russia’s deputy commander Rustam Minnikaev said on Friday that Russia would try to take over the whole of southern Ukraine, he added that it would create “another route to Transnistria, where there is also evidence that the Russian-speaking population is being oppressed.”
These statements are causing concern in Moldova, neighboring Ukraine, said Karen-Anna Egin, a researcher at the Ministry of Defense Studies (IFS).
Transnistria is a breakaway republic in Moldova, supported by Russia for more than 30 years.
Russia used Transnistria politically to block Moldova’s approach to the West, according to senior scholar Jacob M. Godzimirski at the Norwegian Institute for Foreign Policy. (newbies).
The ambassador called out on the carpet
Moldova on Friday summoned Russia’s ambassador to the country to express “deep concern” about the Russian general’s comments.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also took the opportunity to warn that the invasion of Ukraine “was just the beginning” and that other countries could take their turn.
The researchers all confirmed that VG has spoken that an invasion of Moldova is not likely in the near future. They note, among other things, that the statement comes from a general point of view rather than a political one, and that it is an open question to what extent Russia will succeed militarily in Ukraine in the future.
It is one thing to say something, quite another to achieve it, says Godzimirsky.
In the event that Russia continues to control all of southern Ukraine, it may relate to several strategic goals:
- Land bridge to Transnistria.
- A stifling grip on the Ukrainian economy, which includes much of the industries and large trade routes in the south.
- Control of large natural resources (mainly gas) in the sea between Crimea and Odessa
Spawn in IFS already seen in early March it Russia can create a land corridor All over southern Ukraine. Thus, the Russians were able to prevent Ukraine from reaching its important coast.
Godzimirski also refers to this goal.
Energy resources are a potential bonus, but not a primary target. It’s quickly turning to resources they can’t find markets for, so I don’t think that’s the main reason, he says.
Many Moldovan residents fear that they will be Russia’s next target. Read the VG report from the country:
Are they Putin’s next target?
With a pro-Russian breakaway republic nearby, Ressa believes Moldova will suffer the same fate as Ukraine: – In Putin’s mind, all people are cartoon characters with whom he can do whatever he wants, says Ressa.
Eigen believes that the new signals from the Russian army should be taken seriously.
– This statement is of course disturbing to Moldova, and it clearly means something that it is not protected by Article V (in NATO Treaty Journal.anm.) and parts of its territory are occupied by Russian-backed separatists, Eggen writes in an email to VG.
– What is the cause of concern that Russia will attack Transnistria in Moldova with the aim of occupying?
Russia already controls large parts of southern Ukraine, from Kherson to Donbas. In other words, Eigen answers that it should cause concern when combined with statements in which Russian speakers are discriminated against.
She points out that Russia also did not show much respect for the sovereignty of neighboring countries if it believed that the land historically and culturally belonged to Russia.
Russia has deployed troops in Transnistria since a ceasefire came into effect in 1992.
The breakaway republic is entirely dependent on Russia economically and militarily.
The conflict in the 1990s had several similarities to the conflict in the Donbass region, where the fighting since 2014 was before the current full-scale war in Ukraine.
Transnistria, for example, had a larger share of Russians and Ukrainians than the rest of Moldova, and there was political disagreement over what would be the consequences of reversing many of the Soviet reforms, as well as the country’s shift towards Romania in the West.
Russia has used these “realist” countries very actively in its policies. Godzimirsky said Russia said it would expand its forces as early as 1999, but rather more were built.
One of the main reasons why a possible invasion of Transnistria is not imminent is the lack of military power in Russia.
At present, there is little evidence that the Russian occupation of parts of Moldova is at all realistic. It is clear that the Russian army had enough of trying to secure victories and control in the Donbass region, and they were repelled when they had previously tried to capture Mikolajev, reports Eigen from the IFS
Egin considers that a Russian attack on the cities of Mykolaiv and Odessa at this stage of the war would be “inappropriate”.
– They don’t seem to have the ability to. The researcher adds that the latter is a result of the heavy losses and the lack of forces.
Research Leader Turmod Heyer of the Armed Forces Staff College shares Eigen’s view.
– I don’t think they will succeed. Haier told VG on Friday that the Russians do not have the traditional ability to expand their ambitions.
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