- The landlocked strip along the Dniester River is wedged between Moldova and Ukraine
Putin is said to be on the verge of a new land grab to challenge the West, possibly announcing soon that Russia is taking control of a breakaway region of Moldova.
There is speculation that the unofficial state Transnistria is about to appeal to Putin to join Russia.
The landlocked strip along the Dniester River is wedged between Moldova and Ukraine.
Putin already has a “peacekeeping” force of up to 2,000 troops in the territory that Russia says it overwhelmingly wants Moscow to add. There are also likely to be thousands of Russian paramilitaries on the ground.
There are fears that Putin will use a speech to the Russian Federal Assembly on February 29 to give the green light to annexation.
Putin (pictured) is reportedly on the verge of a new land grab to challenge the West, possibly announcing soon that Russia is taking control of a breakaway region of Moldova.
Transnistria is a landlocked strip along the Dniester River, which is wedged between Moldova and Ukraine.
A “congress” of local politicians was convened in Transnistria a day earlier amid speculation that they will issue a formal call to join Russia. A similar conference earlier generated such a demand.
Local opposition politician Gennadiy Chorba claims that the plot to take over Transnistria is underway, as part of Putin’s re-election campaign.
This will give Putin supposed “legal” power to enter Transnistria, which has been in limbo since the end of the Soviet Union.
The dictator has noted the West’s failure to meet Ukraine’s weapons needs and feels he could get his way with new annexation, experts say.
Russia could potentially use the territory to advance against the rest of Moldova, which is seen as another target, and as a launching point for attacks on the Ukrainian port of Odessa, which is seen as a much bigger prize.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has insisted that Moscow “will not leave its citizens living in Transnistria in trouble.”
Moldova’s president, Maia Sandu, claimed last year that Russia was planning a coup in her country.
Ukrainian intelligence said Moscow’s possible move is “not confirmed” but is being closely monitored.
Sources also emphasize that it could be difficult for Putin to bring in troops to strengthen the forces Russia has had in Transnistria since the end of the Soviet era.
But opposition politician Gennady Ciorba warned Sandu about the threat from the Kremlin, saying that “the psychology of Russia’s current leaders, in particular Putin, is very similar to the psychology of Hitler in the late 1930s…
“Attempts to appease people like Putin only lead to one thing: the growing appetite of the aggressor.”
Ukrainian military analyst Aleksander Kovalenko called the reports “worrying.”
And he warned: ‘This group of [Russian] troops represents a serious threat to Moldova, as it is a much more combat-ready force than the Moldovan army.
Russians are the largest group among the population of Transnistria, at almost 30 percent.
Another 29 percent are Moldovans or Romanians, while 23 percent are Ukrainians.