FILE PHOTO: A Russian serviceman walks past the Operational Group of Russian Forces headquarters in Tiraspol, in Moldova’s self-proclaimed separatist Transdniestria, November 3, 2021. The banner reads “Army of Russia”. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo
March 22, 2022
By Alexander Tanas
CHISINAU (Reuters) – Moldova is monitoring its breakaway pro-Russian region of Transdniestria for any sign of escalating tensions following Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said on Tuesday.
Transdniestria is a narrow strip of land held by pro-Russian separatists that runs along the east of Moldova and comes to within about 25 miles (40 km) of the Ukrainian port of Odesa.
Russian troops are stationed there, despite repeated calls by Moldovan President Maia Sandu for them to leave.
Ukraine fears Transdniestria could be used as a new front, putting further pressure on Odesa.
“So far the situation is calm. We have not seen any movement towards escalation,” said Popescu said at the European parliament.
“Given what happened in the region before, we as a government cannot rule out any options and must consider the full range of scenarios for the development of events including negative ones.”
Russian peacekeepers appeared in Transdniestria after it fought a brief war with Moldova in 1992 and declared itself an independent state. It remains unrecognised by any country, including Russia.
In early February, Russian forces held military drills in Transdniestria against the backdrop of a Russian troop buildup near eastern Ukraine that led to the Feb. 24 invasion.
The war has pushed Moldova to speed up a bid to join the European Union and piled huge pressure on its economy by forcing more than 331,000 refugees across the border from Ukraine, of which around 100,000 have remained in the country.
On Tuesday, gas importer Moldovagaz warned that the country also faced a potential energy price crunch that could see what it pays for gas from Russia rise to $1,000 per 1,000 cubic meters in April from the current level of $547 due to a sharp rise in gas prices in Europe.
But the head of Moldovagaz Vadim Cheban told journalists the company:”will not rush to demand an increase in the gas tariff for consumers”.
(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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