Moldova fears Russian offensive in the east next year: intelligence chief

Photo by Andreea Campeanu/Getty Images

Moldova's intelligence head warned about a “very high” risk of a Russian offensive threatening the country’s east next year. He also claimed Moscow wants to create a land corridor through Ukraine to the breakaway Moldovan region of Transnistria.

The comments by Alexandru Musteata, head of the Information and Security Service, confirmed information from Ukraine where top army generals warned about such an offensive that could take place early next year.

“The question is not whether the Russian Federation will undertake a new advance towards Moldova's territory, but when it will do so,” Mr Musteata said during an interview TVR-Moldova television channel.

He said Moldovan intelligence believes Russia may try reaching Moldova and the offensives could be launched in January-February or later in March-April.

The Information and Security Service issued a statement which says Russian offensive action depends on the Russian developments in Ukraine.

To Ukraine's west, fellow ex-Soviet republic Moldova has a tiny defence budget and has long had Russian troops and peacekeepers based in Transnistria, a breakaway statelet that has survived for three decades with support from Moscow.

Musteata said Russia wanted its forces invading Ukraine to link up with those in Transnistria.

Russia wants to create a corridor in connection with a rebelled province of Moldova - Transnistria - which de iure is a part of Moldova and de facto a state with no clear international recognition status, dominated by Russian speaking population. The state was created in September 1990 after Moldova announced its secession from the Soviet Union. Then a region with a capital in Tiraspol declared it wants to stay in the Soviet Union. In 2017 the region declared the flag of the Russian Federation to be on equal standing with its own, treating it as its national symbol. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine Transnistria has been seen by its neighbours as a potential flashpoint due to Russia’s aggressive rhetoric disseminated in local media and by Transnistrian authorities.

Moldova, now seeking closer ties with the West, has condemned the Russian invasion of its neighbour Ukraine.