What is Russia Planning Against Moldova? – Russian military commander Rustam Minnekaev may have let slip Russia’s plan to establish a land corridor from the contested Donbas region in Ukraine, all the way to the border of Moldova – a move that would cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea entirely, and which could potentially drag Moldova into the conflict.
During a meeting with the Union of Defense Industries on Friday, Minnekaev admitted that the land corridor will not just help Russia but will damage the Ukrainian economy.
“One of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine. This will provide a land corridor to the Crimea, as well as influence the vital objects of the Ukrainian economy,” he said.
“Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population,” the Russian commander added, referencing the separatist region of Moldova that already has a large Russian military presence.
Will Russia Invade Moldova’s Transnistria Region?
Russia has had a large military presence in the Transnistria region since 1992 when Russian forces became involved in the Transnistria War. Would Russia dare press all the way to Moldova next?
At the end of the war, which saw the Soviet 14th Guards Army assist Transnistrian separatist forces fighting against Moldovan troops, Russia established a permanent military presence in the region.
Transnistria also declared independence from Moldova in 1990, and while no member of the United Nations recognizes the sovereignty of the region, it’s not unlike Russian President Vladimir Putin to ignore international agreements or consensus.
What’s more, Transnistria is not a member of NATO, and Moldova – as the poorest country in Europe – is unlikely to be capable of initiating a substantial military defense against invading Russian forces.
A Russian invasion of the territory, therefore, may simply attract international condemnation but little in the way of military pushback – unless Moldova requests military support or supplies from NATO countries, and allies comply.
At present, Russia controls much of Ukraine’s eastern and southeastern territories, and controls Ukraine’s eastern coastline on the Black Sea. Russian troops have since struggled to expand their control westwards. Minnekaev’s comments seem to suggest that Russian troops will next refocus their energies not just on the east, but on pushing westwards from Crimea, further into Ukrainian territory and all the way to Moldova.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.