Ukrainian leader dismisses claims that Russian forces stationed in the breakaway region of Transnistria could pose a serious military danger.
Soldiers of the breakaway region of Transnistria take part in a military parade during the Independence Day celebration in the region’s capital, Tiraspol, September 2, 2013. Photo: EPA/Stringer
The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, told Italian Rai 1 TV station on Friday that Ukraine does not consider the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria to be a serious military threat, despite the presence of Russian soldiers that could attack Ukraine from there.
“There may be an attack in Transnistria, where Russia controls 100 per cent of the people. There are both local and Russian troops there. They may be up to 15,000, but these are not very prepared,” Zelensky said.
He added that Moscow can only reinforce these troops by air, as the separatist region has no land border with Russia and is sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine.
The Ukrainian President admitted that an attack from the region would be a challenge, but said it was not a significant threat that Ukraine could not handle.
Russia has kept some 1,600 soldiers in the breakaway region since 1992. Most are local Transnistreans recruited into the Russian army, with less than 100 actual Russian soldiers. The Russian forces are split between so-called peacekeepers and the Operational Group of Russian Troops, OGRT.
Moldova has repeatedly asked Russia to withdraw its army from its soil.
Russian Reneral Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s Central Military District, raised fears of an attack from Transnistria when he said on April 22 that, in “the second stage of the special military operation in Ukraine”, Moscow planned to take complete control of eastern and southern Ukraine – linking up to Transnistria.
“Control over southern Ukraine is another path to Transnistria, where there is evidence that the Russian-speaking population is being oppressed,” Minnekayev said.
After his statements, a series of incidents, widely deemed “false flag” Russian operations, occurred in Transnistria, including bomb explosions at the secret service headquarters and at TV antennas.
The authorities in Tiraspol said today that unknown individuals had thrown two Molotov cocktails into the building of the Military Commissariat in Tiraspol.
The regime has opened multiple investigations into the explosions without ever finding any perpetrators, meanwhile claiming that Ukraine is to blame.
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