Around the World and Back Again

I’ve been around the globe a time or two, but only once can I remember the name Transnistria coming up in passing.  To be honest, I’m not quite sure how to pronounce it yet.

Transnistria, shown here in red, lies between Moldova and Ukraine. Graphic courtesy of

But there it is, and suddenly the whole world is talking about it. Why? Because it may play an important role in the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine.

Does This Have to Do With Empire (Re)Building?

A Russian military commander suggested Friday that Moscow wants to establish a corridor through southern Ukraine to the breakaway republic of Transnistria in eastern Moldova.  This immediately sends a red flag high into the air and gets my spidey sense tingling.  It made me think of Russian expansion. Does Putin want to take over Moldova next? If he does, what comes after that?

If you think back on your history, you’ll recall that the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was one of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union. So Putin could be looking to rebuild that union piece by piece.

Rustam Minnekaev, acting commander of Russia’s Central Military District, stated this week to the Russian news agency Interfax:

“Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population.”

It’s not immediately clear if Minnekaev’s statement reflects the official line of the Kremlin or not. In the early weeks of the war, Russia tried and failed to advance on southwestern Ukraine, where Transnistria sits as a gateway to Moldova.

Regardless of what Minnekaev meant or whom he was speaking for, his comments sparked a global conversation about the long-term goals of Russia and any more immediate actions planned for Moldova. Moldova immediately summoned Russia’s ambassador Friday to express his “deep concern” over Minnekaev’s comments upon hearing the remarks.