'No one is safe': Moldova PM fears Russian invasion of Transnistria

'No one is safe': Moldova PM fears Russian invasion of Transnistria
Credit: Creative Commons

Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița told the US broadcasting network CNN on Saturday that her country is still living in fear of a Russian invasion.

Moldova has already felt the economic shock after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but it remains very concerned that Russian President Vladimir Putin also has his eyes on Moldova.

As the war continues, there have been various signals from the Kremlin that it is planning on building a land bridge via military means from the Donbas in Ukraine, all the way to Transnistria – an unrecognised breakaway state that is internationally recognised as part of Moldova.

"Of course we are concerned. It is still a hypothetical situation, but if the military actions move further into the southwestern part of Ukraine, and towards Odesa, we will of course be very concerned," said Gavrilita.

"Especially considering the troops in the Transnistria region. We are doing everything we can to maintain peace and stability and to ensure that the fighting does not escalate."

Odesa is a Ukrainian port city close to the Moldovan border. It was struck by Russian missiles on Saturday, just a day after an agreement was reached to allow Ukrainian grain exports.

In the EU's orbit

Moldova is located southwest of Ukraine and was once a part of the Soviet Union, just like Ukraine. It finds itself caught between two worlds as it aims to establish closer ties to the EU. In June, Moldova was granted candidate status alongside Ukraine.

However, Moldova is still tied to Russia due to energy. Since February, it has technically had the capability to change from Russian to European electricity and gas grids.

Related News

But Moldova is hard hit by domestic woes, with an annual inflation at 22% as well as disrupted exports and trade. The conflict in Ukraine is also making the future uncertain for the 2.6 million people in Moldova.

Rising tensions

In addition to its economic issues, tensions in pro-Russian separatist region, Transnistria, are raising fears that Moldova will get dragged into the broader conflict.

30 years ago, Moldova fought against Russian troops in the region. But Russian troops are still based there, which further increases concerns of a possible invasion.

"We are in a very difficult position. Not just Moldova, but every small country. If a country can start an annexation war without regard for international law, then no one is safe. I think many countries are concerned," said Gavrilița.

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.