Russia’s military aims now publicly extend beyond Ukraine, as the deputy commander of Russia’s central military district declared that the Russian-speaking population of Moldova is also being “oppressed.”
This is similar to the pretext used for justification of the invasion of Ukraine. Brigadier General Rustam Minnekayev, the deputy commander, added that southern Ukraine is a connection to Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova. The region is globally recognized as part of Moldova.
In his words, Russian Armed Forces intend to “make passage” into Moldova’s East for a “land corridor to Crimea.” It would also create a direct passage between Transnistria and the Russian mainland under Russian control.
Some analysts speculate that the commander’s statements at the meeting of the Union of Defense Industries were not authorized. However, his revelations of the Kremlin’s goals were reported by the Russian state-owned Interfax and TASS news agencies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated denials of territorial ambitions appear to be a thing of the past.
Minnekayev’s statements indicate that Russia does not plan to wind down its so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine and possibly beyond anytime soon. The breakaway Transdniestria region, which borders southern Ukraine, is feared to be the planned base for new attacks on the besieged country.
Earlier this month, officials in Kyiv said an airfield in Transdniestria was being readied to support Russian aircraft ferrying in new troops for the invasion of Ukraine. In an immediate response, Moldova officials denied this and declared themselves a “neutral state.” The government added that “this principle must be respected by all international actors, including the Russian Federation.”
Moldova’s foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador afterwards to express “deep concern” over Minnekayev’s remarks. In a statement posted online, the government said the accusations of oppression are “unfounded” and contradictory to the Russian Federation’s position of support for its “sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The United Nations Human Rights Office on Friday called the Russian atrocities that were revealed as they withdrew from around the capital and other cities a “horror story of violations against civilians.”
Moldova is a poor nation but another Russian neighbor with aspirations of closer ties to the European Union. Putin and the Kremlin have other ideas, and that creaking sound we hear may be the rusted old Iron Curtain being pulled out of mothballs.