search

Moldova steps up security after blasts in Russia-backed breakaway region

President Maia Sandu attributes series of explosions to ‘internal differences’ between groups in Transnistria, which she says have an interest in destabilizing situation

Moldova's President Maia Sandu speaks during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at the Presidential Palace, in Chisinau, Moldova, on March 6, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP)
Moldova's President Maia Sandu speaks during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at the Presidential Palace, in Chisinau, Moldova, on March 6, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP)

Moldovan President Maia Sandu on Tuesday urged citizens to remain calm while she stepped up security measures after a series of explosions in the breakaway Russia-backed region of Transnistria.

Transnistria, a strip of land with about 470,000 people, has been under the control of separatist authorities since a 1992 war with Moldova. Russia bases about 1,500 troops in the breakaway region, nominally as peacekeepers.

Sandu convened the country’s Supreme Security Council after blasts on Monday and Tuesday in the separatist region bordering Ukraine raised fears of a spillover from the conflict there.

Sandu said after a meeting of the Supreme Security Council: “We urge citizens to keep calm and feel safe.”

She condemned the explosions that hit Transnistria’s security ministry, a radio tower and a military unit, causing damage but no reported injuries.

“This is an attempt to escalate tensions. We decisively condemn such acts,” she said, attributing the explosions to “internal differences between various groups in Transnistria that have an interest in destabilizing the situation”.

In this photograph released by the Press Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, destroyed radio antennas lie on the ground in Maiac, in the Moldovan separatist region of Transnistria, on April 26, 2022. (Press Center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic via AP, HO)

The explosions happened in the small town of Maiac, roughly 12 kilometers (7 miles) west of the Ukraine border, according to the region’s Interior Ministry. No one was hurt, officials said.

The two antennas were used for broadcasting Russian radio shows. No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

On Monday, several explosions, believed to have been caused by rocket-propelled grenades, were reported to have hit the Ministry of State Security in Tiraspol, Transnistria’s capital.

Sandu said she had not had direct contact with Transnistria’s leadership.

The Security Council of Transnistria on Tuesday reported there had been a total of three incidents in the region — explosions in Tiraspol on Monday, the ones in Maiac on Tuesday and damage to a military unit in the village of Parcani, also on Tuesday.

Officials did not offer any details on the military unit incident, but declared “a red level of terrorist threat” and promised to impose additional security measures in the region.

Transnistria’s president, Vadim Krasnoselsky, called Tuesday for imposing anti-terrorist security measures at a “red level” for 15 days, including setting up blockposts at the entrances to cities.

A serviceman walks past a statue of a soldier near the Operational Group of Russian Forces headquarters in Tiraspol, the capital of the breakaway region of Transnistria, a disputed territory unrecognized by the international community, in Moldova, Nov. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday that the situation in Transnistria “elicits concern” in Moscow.

The United States has warned amid the war in Ukraine that Russia could launch “false-flag” attacks in nearby nations as a pretext for sending in troops.

A Ukrainian presidential advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak warned in a tweet that Moldova might be attacked next.

“Bad news: if Ukraine falls tomorrow Russian troops will be at Chișinău’s gates,” he tweeted, referring to Moldova’s capital. “Good news: Ukraine will definitely ensure strategic security of the region. But we need to work as a team.”

Sandu said the Supreme Security Council had recommended that state agencies step up patrols and vehicle checks near the buffer zone with Transnistria, as well as tightening public safety measures and security checks on critical infrastructure.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed