Russia Moldova: Where is Moldova? Is Moldova in Nato or the EU? Where is Transnistria?

Officials in Transnistria have reported several explosions at the state security ministry sparking concerns of a false flag operation that could signal the start of a Russian invasion.

There are concerns that the incident in the separatist area could helm an invasion from Russia, with many citing similarities in the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin’s forces.

The United States has previously warned that Russian forces could launch “false-flag” operations to create a pretext for invading the territory of other nations.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Where is Moldova?

Moldova is located in Eastern Europe and is a former Soviet republic state. Moldova is bordered on the west and southwest by Romania and on the north, south, and east by Ukraine. A part of the former USSR, Transnistria, is a pro-Russia breakaway region of Moldova, which borders Ukraine to the southwest.

Is Moldova in the EU?

Moldova, like Ukraine, is not a member of the European Union, however it has a close economic relationship with the bloc state and benefits from "the removal of import duties for most goods traded between the EU and Moldova" as part of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade area agreement. The EU-Moldova association agreement with its deep and comprehensive free trade area came into full force in 2016.

A huge coat of arms of Transnistria - Moldova's pro-Russian breakaway region on the eastern border with Ukraine, in Transnistria's capital of Tiraspol.. The breakaway region of ex-Soviet Moldova, which borders western Ukraine, saw explosions hit its security ministry on Monday and a radio tower on Tuesday morning. The incidents come after a senior Russian military official last week raised the issue of "oppression" of Russian speakers in Transnistria in the context of Russia's military campaign in Ukraine. (Photo by Sergei Gapon via Getty Images)

Following the conflict in Ukraine, EU member states have offered various assistance to Moldova, including shelter, hygiene kits and power generators. Following the aggression from Russia against Ukraine, the European Council announced on 4 April 2022 to provide a new macro-financial assistance operation of €150 million in the form of loans and grants to Moldova.

Is Moldova in Nato?

Moldova is a non-NATO member and is not part of the strategic alliance. In the past Moldova has sought to stay neutral, neither siding with the EU nor NATO.

Where is Transnistria?

Transnistria, or Transdniestria, is a breakaway region of Moldova beside the Ukrainian border. Transnistria is a strip of land with about 470,000 people. About 1,500 Russian troops are based there.

The lane is between the Dniester river and the Ukrainian border and broke away from Moldova after a brief war in 1992. The international community does not recognise its self-declared statehood. A referendum on independence in September 2006, not recognised by Moldova or the international community, saw the territory reassert its demand for independence and vote in support of ensuing a union with Russia.

The acting commander of Russia's Central Military District, Rustam Minnekayev, said last week that full control of southern Ukraine was a strategic goal to allow access to Moldova's pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria.

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It has been reported that several explosions believed caused by rocket-propelled grenades hit the territory’s ministry of state security. There was no immediate claim of responsibility or reports of injuries.

Moldova’s foreign ministry said “the aim of today’s incident is to create pretexts for straining the security situation in the Transnistrian region”. The US has said Russia might launch “false-flag” attacks against its own side to create a pretext for invading other nations.

What is significant about Transnistria/Trandsniestria?

Kyiv has repeatedly warned that Transnistria could be used as a staging area for Russian operations against Ukraine or against Moldova, a non-NATO member that shares a border and a common history with NATO member Romania.

Moldova's Foreign Ministry summoned Russia's ambassador to the country to express "deep concern" comments made by a Russian general that suggested the Kremlin is targeting its territory.

Russia does not officially recognise the independence of Transnistria, but there are similarities with how areas of Ukraine have been viewed by Russia.

Russia recognised two areas of Ukraine as independent before invading to carry out "peacekeeping operations" in the separatist regions, with concerns that they could carry out similar tactics in Transnistria..