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First Ukraine, now Moldova. The Kremlin is going to expand its war.

A number of alleged attacks in Transnistria, in the breakaway region of Moldova, have forced people to flee, deepening fears that Russia is seeking to expand its war beyond Ukraine.

He blamed Moscow for the attacks, which included explosions that damaged two radio towers – separatist offices in Tiraspol, the unrecognized capital of Transnistria, which seceded from Moldova shortly after the war in the early 1990s.

Moldova’s response was more cautious. After a meeting with senior security officials on April 26, Moldovan President Maya Sandu, who has replaced Russia’s longtime ally for stronger ties with the West, accused “pro-war groups” of trying to escalate tensions in Transnistria.

On April 25, two destroyed radio antennas fell to the ground in Mayach, Transnistria, Moldova.

The alleged attacks, which forced many to flee, drove out of Transnistria and into the rest of Moldova, took place recently after sculptures by a high-ranking Russian military official.

In addition to the region’s own combat forces, some 2,000 Russian troops have been stationed in Transnistria for the past three decades, ostensibly to maintain Europe’s largest ammunition depot in Kobasna, just two kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

Russian Army General Rustam Minneka said on April 22 that Moscow intended to occupy southern Ukraine, including the port city of Odessa, which would allow it “another exit to Transnistria.”

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said that Minaka’s comment was a signal that Russia’s invasion was only a “beginning”, that “they want to conquer other countries.”

Despite his military failures in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin may choose to seize more land, said Stefan Wolf, a professor of international security at Birmingham University in the United Kingdom, in an e-mail to RFE / RL.

“In the scenario of Putin’s dream, yes. “He takes all of southern Ukraine, recognizes Transnistria, and then causes more trouble in the rest of Moldova, including Gagauzia,” Wolff said, referring to the Moldovan Autonomous Region, which is populated mainly by Turkish-speaking Orthodox Christians.

SEE ALSO. The Gagauz region of Moldova is struggling to find common ground with Chisinau.

Some argue that Mineka was simply displaying new thinking in the upper echelons of the Russian army.

“The Russian military thinks that limiting the initial goals of the war is a serious mistake. “They now claim that Russia is not fighting against Ukraine, but against NATO,” wrote Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan. Article: For the Center for European Policy Analysis in the United States.

“Therefore, high-ranking officers have come to the conclusion that the Western bloc is fighting for everything (through the supply of more sophisticated weapons), while its forces operate under peacetime restrictions, such as preventing air strikes on some key areas of Ukraine’s infrastructure. “In short, the military is now demanding a comprehensive war, including mobilization,” the two wrote.

As a possible sign of a change in strategy, a Russian missile strike on April 26 targeted a key bridge connecting the Bessarabia region of Ukraine with the rest of the Odessa region. However, despite the attack, military experts doubt whether Russia can launch a new attack in the region.

“I do not think it is very realistic,” said Michael Koffman, who heads the CNA, a Russian research and nonprofit think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.

“In general, I think that the Russian armed forces have sharply reduced their combat effectiveness, taking into account the high level of losses, the limitations of the presence of force. Together they scraped what was left of the standing force for some reinforcement. “It can not compensate for the losses.” says in a Twitter post on April 20.

A Russian soldier is lying dead on a destroyed tank near Hostomel in the Ki region of Ukraine.

Since the start of the invasion on February 24, Russia has only twice provided official figures on its losses, both of which were much lower than Western’s Ukrainian estimates.

On March 2, the RF Ministry of Defense reported 498 casualties, and on March 25, it reported the deaths of 1,351 servicemen. Ukrainian officials put the number of Russian deaths at more than 21,000 as of April 27.

Russia has suffered similarly suffered great losses in its military equipment During the two months of fighting in Ukraine, other analysts believe that “years” may pass before it is ready for a new war.

“Realistically, Moscow has no military capabilities to do that. “They are already fighting for significant gains in Donbas,” Wolf said. “It is not clear that they will be able to keep any newly occupied territory. The current “plan” assumes the occupation of about one third of the territory of Ukraine. “Even in the case of local proxies, the ‘occupation troops’ will afford long-term ‘expensive local resistance’ that will be well supported by government-controlled Ukraine’s NATO.”

Defends Nikola!

Polish defense analyst Konrad Muzika also doubts that Russia will expand its attack in the near future. “The Russian center is now in the Donbas, northeast of Kherson,” Muzika told RFE / RL, referring to the separatist-held areas in southeastern Ukraine, just north of Crimea.

According to Muzyka և other military analysts, Ukraine’s ability to repel Russian attacks on the southern port city of Mykola has so far been crucial to halting any Russian advance east along the Black Sea coast.

“Everyone is talking about Ki’s Ukrainian defense, but Nikola’s defense was just as important,” Muzika said, referring to Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukrainian capital last month, which prompted the Kremlin to reduce its military, at least publicly. goals.

And if Moscow really decided to march on Transnistria, it would not receive much support from the poorly armed forces there, Dionis Senusa, a visitor to the Center for Eastern European Studies in Vilnius, told RFE / RL.

“There are up to 2000 Russian soldiers of the operative group of Russian troops in Transnistria. Why will Russia open a new front in such conditions? Senusa said, referring to the 1,500 Russian troops reportedly guarding the vast ammunition depot in Kobasna, the “500 soldiers whom Moscow describes as peacekeepers whom Kishn has long demanded to leave.”

Separatist Transnistria also has its own armed forces, numbering between 4,000 and 7,500, and little is known about their combat capabilities or equipment.

Whether a comprehensive attack on Transnistria may be a low priority at the moment, Moscow could try to destabilize Moldova, where the Kremlin lost a key ally when Sandu was elected president in December 2020. Pro-Western parties also performed well in the parliamentary elections. July 2021, which further undermines the Kremlin’s influence in the country.

The latest incidents in Transnistria, according to Wolff, were probably organized by the Kremlin.

“I still think it is more likely that it is directly from Moscow, but it could have been executed by some local operatives directly on the Kremlin’s salary. “What I have heard from local sources is that Tiraspol and Chisinau are quite terrified of being involved in the war in Ukraine, trying to avoid any destabilization,” Wolf said.

“Russia’s security services are now debating whether to destabilize Moldova, to tie Ukrainian forces to the southern border, to counter pro-European sentiment in the country, to show the West that Ukraine’s support is in danger of wider repercussions, including in the Balkans.” Jack Watling և Nick Reynolds in their book last article:Operation Z. The Death Throes of an Imperial Delusion, published by the British Royal United Services Institute.

President of Moldova Maya Sandu (file photo)

On April 7, President Sandu announced a ban on the display of St. George’s ribbon, the orange stripes that had long been considered a symbol of Russian aggression in Ukraine, as well as Russian military symbols such as “Z. ‘

After the ban, according to Watling-Reynolds, the Ukrainian intelligence began to receive reports that the Russian Federal Security Service was considering organizing a protest movement in Moldova.

According to political analyst Christian Vlas, the most probable scenario for Moldova is that failure. “Whether the pro-Russian socialists announced that they would hold a rally on May 9 (Victory Day) without the ribbon of St. George or any mention of it, we should expect provocations in Gagauzia. [and] Maybe [in the] “It’s the northern Baltic city,” he said, referring to Moldova, the second-largest city in the world, with pro-Russian sentiment.

“As the rise in Russian gas prices hits hard on the population of Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, the situation is particularly volatile,” Vlas said.

“Such a protest movement will not need great aspirations, as many …[people] Concerns have already been raised about high inflation and rising consumer prices.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE / RL, Inc. Republished by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Washington, DC, 20036.

First Ukraine, now Moldova. The Kremlin is going to expand its war.

Source First Ukraine, now Moldova. The Kremlin is going to expand its war.

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