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Moldova security talks on blasts in Russia-backed region

CHISINAU, Moldova: The president of ex-Soviet Moldova on Tuesday convened a meeting of the country’s security council after a series of blasts in the Russian-backed separatist Transnistria region. The breakaway region, which borders western Ukraine, saw explosions hit its security ministry on Monday and a radio tower on Tuesday morning. The press service of President Maia Sandu said she was set to hold a meeting of the country’s Supreme Security Council “in connection with the incidents in the Transnistria region”.

The meeting was announced to start at 1:00 pm (1000 GMT) followed by a press briefing at 3:00 pm. Two explosions hit a radio tower re-broadcasting Russian stations near the Ukrainian border early Tuesday, the interior ministry of the breakaway region said. “Early on April 26, two explosions were heard in the village of Mayak in Grigoriopolsky district,”it said in a statement. It said the blasts at 6:40 am and 7:05 am (0340 GMT and 0405 GMT) targeted the “Mayak” radio centre, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the regional capital Tiraspol.

The ministry said two “powerful” antennae that were re-broadcasting Russian radio were out of order, and shared images of them lying on the ground. There were no injuries, it added. This came after the Transnistrian authorities said the offices of the state security ministry in Tiraspol were hit by what appeared to be a grenade-launcher attack on Monday evening.

No one was injured in the incident, which happened at around 6:00 pm on a public holiday for the Orthodox Easter. But windows were blown out in the state security ministry building and smoke was “billowing out of the buildings”, the Transnistria region’s interior ministry said in a statement.

Russian speakers ‘oppressed’

There was no immediate reason to suggest a link between the two incidents. Transnistria is an unrecognised Moscow-backed breakaway region that seceded in 1990, followed by a short war in 1992, with the Russian army fighting alongside separatists against Moldovan forces.

The frozen conflict has seen Russia deploying troops there ever since. Transnistria is located about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Moldova’s capital Chisinau, bordering western Ukraine. The conflict in Ukraine has provoked fears in Moldova that the country could become Russia’s next target. Moscow still has a military base in Transnistria, guarding a stockpile of some 20,000 tonnes of munitions which were brought there when Soviet troops withdrew from Europe. Chisinau has long called for the Russian troops to leave.

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. Major General Rustam Minnekayev, acting commander of the central military district, on Friday said Russia sought control of southern Ukraine, which could provide access to Transnistria, “where there have been cases of oppression of the Russian-speaking population”.

Moldova’s foreign ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador over the comments, which it called “unfounded and contradicting Russia’s position in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country within internationally recognised borders”. Moldova, a former Soviet republic of 2.6 million people is one of Europe’s poorest countries. President Sandu was elected in 2020 on a pro-Western programme. Unlike neighbouring Romania, Moldova is not a member of NATO. It formally requested to join the bloc in March. – AFP


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