Explosions on Monday shook Transnistria, a Russia-aligned breakaway region of Moldova that borders Ukraine, and the local government said a security agency building in the region’s capital, Tiraspol, had possibly been attacked using grenade launchers.
In a statement, the local internal affairs ministry said no one was injured because of the incident. Pictures posted on social media, and claimed to be from the scene, appeared to show smoke billowing out of broken windows with rescue workers in the streets below.
While the fighting in Ukraine is concentrated in the east, Transnistria, which hosts hundreds of Russian troops and has a large ethnic Russian population, occupies a strategically important spot on Ukraine’s western flank, reaching within about 25 miles of Ukraine’s chief port city, Odesa.
On Friday, a Russian general said one of Moscow’s current aims in Ukraine is to establish “yet another point of access” to Transnistria, a claim that echoed Ukrainian fears that Russia wants to seize Ukraine’s entire Black Sea coast, including Odesa, linking itself to Transnistria. Military experts questioned whether the general’s comments reflected Kremlin policy, and whether the Russian military could carry out such a mission.
During the buildup to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian officials warned of Russian “provocations,” including in Transnistria — attacks that it said Moscow might stage but blame on Kyiv as a pretext for military action.
Transnistria, a thin strip of land with fewer than 500,000 people, broke away from Moldova with support from Moscow in a brief war in the early 1990s. It has a repressive government, heavily dependent on Russia, and Russian state-run television is dominant there.
Since the Ukraine war erupted, the Moldovan and Ukrainian militaries have been concerned about whether Transnistria would enter the fighting as a base for attacking Ukraine from the west.