Russian diplomat warns of risk of escalation in Transnistria

Russian diplomat warns of risk of escalation in Transnistria
The tank monument in Tiraspol, capital of the Russia-backed separatist republic of Transnistria in Moldova.
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest September 7, 2022

The danger of escalation and unfreezing of the conflict in the Transnistrian region is real, Russia’s, ambassador-at-large Vitaly Tryapitsyn told RIA Novosti on September 6.

There have been fears since the start of the war in Ukraine, Moldova’s eastern neighbour, that the situation in the Russia-backed separatist region of Transnistria could deteriorate. After the invasion, there was speculation that Russia could take the Ukrainian Black Sea city of Odesa, then strike towards Moldova to create a land bridge to Transnistria, though Russian forces have since become bogged down in fighting in the Donbas region. 

“[T]here is a danger of escalation. In the period of April-June, a number of openly terrorist acts were committed in Transnistria, the traces of which, as noted in Tiraspol, lead to Ukraine,” the ambassador said.

According to Tryapitsyn, "neighbouring countries" and other external players should be aware of the risks of unfreezing the conflict, leading to a "hot scenario".

“Attempts to resolve the Transnistrian issue by force of arms, especially with the help of Nato troops, would have the most serious negative consequences for the country and the region,” Tryapitsyn said.

So far, however, the authorities in both Chisinau and Tiraspol have sought to avoid any escalation of the long-frozen conflict or involvement in the war in Ukraine. 

This is despite three terrorist attacks that took place in Transnistria at the end of April — in the building of the Ministry of State Security of Transnistria in Tiraspol, near a military unit near the village of Parkany and on the tower of a radio and television centre near the village of Mayak.

A "red" level of terrorist threat was introduced in the region.

The Investigative Committee of Transnistria opened criminal cases under the article "a terrorist attack committed by a group of persons using firearms”. 

A source in Tiraspol said that the terrorist attacks in the unrecognised were carried out by three unidentified persons who arrived from Ukraine.

Transnistrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky also said that the traces of the organisers of the explosions in Transnistria lead to Ukraine.

Also weighing in on the Transnistria issue on September 6, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Rudenko questioned the €40mn financing extended by the European Union to Moldova for military spending.

“The allocation by the EU of an amount of assistance almost equal to the country’s annual military budget to cover the costs associated with the provision of non-lethal military equipment, including mobile platforms and drones, raises serious questions about the true goals of such a policy, especially against the backdrop of Brussels’ openly hostile line towards Russia. Of course, ensuring one's own security is an internal affair of each state. However, it seems doubtful that a sharp increase in the military potential of the republic, which officially declares its neutral status, will contribute to its strengthening,” Rudenko said.