Hell-bent Putin has Moldova ‘in crosshairs’ – fears Russian eyes new ‘tactical advantage’

Ukraine: Vladimir Putin launches missile in warning

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Mark Voyger, a senior fellow with the Transatlantic Defense and Security Program at the Center for European Analysis, has warned “Moldova holds the key” to the next phase of Putin’s expansion plan. The warning comes after a series of attacks on the Russian-held Transnistria region of the former Soviet nation which many believe to be the start of a false-flag operation, creating pretext for Russian troops to invade. On Tuesday, an unidentified explosive device blew up two radio towers outside the regional capital.

The damaged towers carry some of Europe’s most powerful AM radio transmitters dating back to Soviet times and are used to broadcast Russian state media.

The attack comes only a day after unidentified attackers fired at Transnistria’s state security headquarters with propelled-rocket grenades, gutting the building.

The head of the Russian-backed region accused Ukraine of being responsible for the attacks – an allegation Ukraine vehemently denies.

Russian troops in the breakaway region have reportedly been put on “full combat readiness”, according to Ukrainian intelligence.

Ukrainain MP Inna Sovsun said: “Several terrorist attacks have taken place in the Russian-occupied territory of Moldova – Transnistria – in the last 24 hours.

“According to Ukrainian intelligence, Russia plans to launch missile strikes on this pseudo-state to accuse Ukraine of this.

“Recently, the people of Transnistria began to receive SMS (on behalf of Ukraine) with the information that Ukraine will strike at the cities of the pseudo-country. Ukraine hasn’t sent such text messages and has no plans to attack Transnistria.

“We suspect that Russia wants to send more troops to the occupied territories of Moldova (Transnistria) in order to open another front of the war against Ukraine, and to attack the Odesa region from the west.

“Let me remind you that a week ago the Russian leadership stated that Russia want to go to Transnistria because they claim there are violations of the rights of Russian-speaking people. And now they are trying to accuse Ukraine of attack… Are you serious, guys?”

Mr Voyger explains that Moldova “has been in the crosshairs of Russia’s new imperialistic project” for decades and capturing it now would allow Putin’s troops to create a land bridge between annexed Crimea.

It would be strategically advantageous because it would allow troops to encircle the key port city Odesa.

But it also has sentimental value for Putin as a key target of the ‘Novorossiya’ project.

Historically Novorossiya was a large swathe of southern and eastern Ukraine which became part of imperial Russia.

“Moldova holds the key” because reuniting this old fantasy of Russian imperialism would be “something to brag to the Russian people about” to convince them Putin’s invasion was a success.

Mr Voyger said: “In this in the current situation, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, now is the time Putin wants to resuscitate this Novorossiya project – which is the old Russian imperial expansion into the south of Ukraine.

“And so logically connecting Moldova with the other occupied Russian occupied areas, would give Russia tremendous not only tactical but actual strategic advantage because if they succeed, they will cut Ukraine off from the Black Sea.

“They will encircle Odesa, I don’t think they currently have forces to take Odesa but they could besiege it if they have they reach Transnistria and they could bombard it the way they’ve been bombarding Mariupol by using artillery and rockets.”

Last week, one of Putin’s senior military commanders hinted that Moldova could be the next target as the invasion enters its next phase.

Mr Voyger warned: “[Putin’s] public statements have to be taken with a huge grain of salt when it comes to anything related to peace.

“We were only to believe him when he talks about war. He and his commanders indicate where they will go next.”

Speaking at a military event in the Sverdlovsk region on Friday, deputy commander of Russia’s central military district General Rustam Minnekayev said: “Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population.”

The claims, made without evidence, that a “Russian-speaking population” is being oppressed echoes the rhetoric used by Putin before his invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Moldova has increased its terror threat to red and summoned Moscow’s ambassador over the comments, which it’s Foreign Ministry described as “deeply concerning”.

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