Transnistria is a tiny breakaway region of Moldova
Transnistria is a narrow strip of land between Moldova and western Ukraine. It now risks being dragged into the Russia-Ukraine war because of reports of a series of explosions in its territory.
Often described as a “remnant of the Soviet Union,” Transnistria proclaimed independence, along with Moldova, immediately after the Soviet Union disintegrated.
Moldovan troops attempted to take over the territory in 1990-1992, but Transnistria could resist them because of Russian soldiers stationed in the area. It has been independent of Moldovan control since then. Most nations, however, continue to consider Transnistria to be a part of Moldova. A permanent detachment of Russian troops remained in Transnistria as peacekeepers and to secure ammunition depots as part of a 1992 cease-fire deal.
Even Russia does not recognize Transnistria as independent, and its economy is reliant on Russia for subsidies and free gas. Most Transnistrians hold dual Russian-Transnistrian citizenship or triple citizenship of Moldova, Transnistria, and Russia.
In a 2006 referendum, more than 97 percent of Transnistrians voted in favor of future integration with Russia, and following the takeover of Crimea, the administration inquired if it might be integrated into Russia. If now Russia gains control of Transnistria, it will be able to establish a Russian-controlled corridor along Ukraine’s Black Sea coast. Moldova, for its part, is concerned that Russia would use Transnistria to launch an invasion against it since Russia has long desired to include Moldova in its area of influence.
Moldova applied for European Union membership in March 2022. The presence of Russian troops in Transnistria prevents Moldova from fully controlling its own borders. If activated, combat-ready Russian troops in Transnistria could quickly destabilize the region.
The Ukraine war and Russian troops’ presence in Transnistria have made even some international experts worried that Russia could attack Moldova next.