Moldovan breakaway region says shots fired from Ukraine towards village

Transdniestrian Interior Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
A view of toppled Pridnestrovian radio centre antennas, also known as “Grigoriopol transmitter,” following the blasts, near Maiac, Grigoriopol, in Moldova’s self-proclaimed separatist Transdniestria region, in this handout photo released on April 26, 2022.

CHISINAU (Reuters) – Moldova’s pro-Russian breakaway region of Transdniestria said on Wednesday that shots were fired from Ukraine towards a village that houses an ammunition depot, the latest report to raise concern that Russia’s war might expand.

The interior ministry of the unrecognised region that borders southwestern Ukraine said in a statement that several drones had been detected flying over the village of Cobasna overnight and they had come from Ukraine.

It said shots were later fired towards the border village from Ukrainian territory on Wednesday morning. It gave no further details, but said nobody had been hurt.

Russia has a contingent of troops in Transdniestria guarding many tonnes of ammunition stored in the region since before the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Moscow also has peacekeepers there after a conflict between separatist and Moldovan forces.

Transdniestria’s interior ministry cited “experts” as saying that Cobasna holds the biggest ammunition depot in Europe.

Ukraine has accused Russia of trying to mastermind false flag attacks in the region, including explosions that damaged two radio masts on Tuesday. The region itself blames the attacks on Ukraine.

Vadim Krasnoselsky, the self-styled president of Transdniestria, said late on Wednesday that reports he had announced a general mobilisation and prevented men of military age from leaving were “absurd lies” thought up by provocateurs.

“I officially declare that the leadership of the republic has not taken such decisions,” he said in an online post.

Moldovan authorities said queues of cars and trucks had formed on the road out of Transdniestria into the rest of Moldova because of tougher controls at checkpoints that Transdniestria had brought in on Tuesday.

The Kremlin said it was seriously concerned by the developments. The Russian foreign ministry was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying it wants to avoid a scenario in which Moscow would have to intervene there.

The statements have put Moldova on edge.

“We need to make financial and logistical efforts to build a professional army, modern and well-equipped,” said Moldovan President Maia Sandu.

“We are going through a very difficult period for our country, but investments in the army are very necessary, they are needed for infrastructure, for the security and defence of the state,” she said.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar accused Russia of being ready to use Transdniestria as a bridgehead to move on Ukraine or the rest of Moldova.