After multiple explosions were reported in Transnistria, an unrecognized breakaway state from Moldova, the Moldovan President Maia Sandu convened an emergency meeting of Moldova’s Supreme Security Council to assess the next steps that their country was going to take.

The explosions, which happened at around 6 pm local time, were reportedly aimed toward Soviet-era radio masts in the breakaway region. The leadership in Transnistria stated that two Russian radio antennas were damaged in the attacks. Blasts also reportedly hit its Ministry of State Security building in Tiraspol, and the culprit was a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. According to Transnistria’s Interior Ministry, the blast had blown out the windows of the building, and that smoke was coming out of the building. Nobody was reported hurt or killed during the attacks on April 25th and 26th, and nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks. This building is also believed to be the base of the Russian internal security service the FSB.

Transnistria's State Security Building after the attack (Liveuamap). Source:
Transnistria’s State Security Building after the attack (Liveuamap/Twitter)

A third incident was reported, with a military unit in Parcani being allegedly attacked.

The Moldovan government is taking extreme precautions against the attacks as the raging war in Ukraine continues. Furthermore, Russia has expressed interest in creating a landbridge toward Transnistria after their so-called success in Mariupol.

“Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population,” Russia’s Central Military District Acting Commander Rustam Minnekaev said.

Moldova’s foreign ministry had to summon Russia’s ambassador due to the commander’s comments, stating that the statement was “unfounded and contradicting Russia’s position in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country within internationally recognized borders.”

In previous reports during the first half of the invasion of Ukraine, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was seen pointing to a map with Transnistria also being included in the plans. This would align with the Russian commander’s statements regarding establishing a landbridge.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko showing a battle map where Transnistria is included (marqs Twitter Account). Source:
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko showing a battle map where Transnistria is included (marqs Twitter Account)

It is important to note that Russian forces have already been present in the region, where some 1,500 Russian “peacekeepers” are stationed (The New York Times reports that there are at least 10,000 Russian and Russian-backed troops). While not officially recognized as an independent state by Russia, it has definitely helped the breakaway region keep its so-called “territory” from the Moldovan government as the Russian troops stationed there help secure their “border” as “Peace Keepers.” A Russian-speaking population is present in this region, which is the pretext Russia has used for its intervention.  As a result of their continued close relations, Transnistria gets free natural gas, and the people get pensions from the Russian government.

Ukraine has accused Russia that the explosions were set off to be used as a pretext to advance to Transnistria and use it as a platform to launch an attack from its southwestern side.

Presidential Adviser Mykahailo Podolyak also tweeted that “Russia wants to destabilize the Transnistrian region & hints Moldova should wait for ‘guests.'” He further went on to say that if Ukraine were to fall tomorrow, Russia would be at Moldova’s “gates,” but the good thing was Ukraine had been successfully securing its borders. “But we need to work as a team,” he said, possibly referring to Moldova.

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“We urge citizens to keep calm and feel safe,” Moldovan Presiden Maia Sandu said, stating that the attack was an attempt to escalate tensions in their country. After the meeting, it was agreed upon that Moldova would increase security on their critical infrastructure as well as increase patrols and vehicle checks in the buffer zone with Transnistria.

She reportedly blamed the attacks on “factions” within separatist-held Transnistria and that it was an attempt to drag Moldova into “actions that may endanger peace within the country.”

On the other hand, Transnistria’s leader Vadim Krasnoselsky put the blame on Ukraine and asked the Ukrainian government to investigate the attack. According to the Transnistrian leader, there was an illegal movement of “fighters” on their so-called territory and committed a terrorist attack on them.

The Russian government was surprisingly neutral about the attacks and said, “We are observing closely, and the news prompts concern,” Russia’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. He declined to state or comment on who they thought was behind the attacks. The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that the Kremlin wanted to avoid a situation where it would have to intervene in a conflict in Transnistria.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko urged for an investigation of the attacks in Moldova and stated that the Kremlin is hoping that Transnistria would not be dragged into the current war in Ukraine. A Russian legislator Leonid Kalashnikov stated that the recent attacks were provocations aimed at Moscow, “drawing Russia deeper into military action in the region.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the world’s largest security body, expressed that they condemned all attempts to destabilize the situation in Moldova.

As a result of the attacks, Transnistria declared what it calls a “red” level of terror threat that would last for 15 days. All schools were switched to remote learning, and they also canceled their parade to commemorate the World War II victory on May 9th, which Russia also celebrates. May 9th is also the date wherein Russia wants to completely “liberate” the Donbas region from Ukrainian control.

The US is currently monitoring the situation in Transnistria, according to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. He stated that he was aware of the “recent violence” in the Moldovan region and that US officials were “still looking to the cause of that.”

“We’re not really sure what that’s all about, but that’s something that we’ll stay focused on.”