NATO Warns Russia May Be Poised for Moldova Invasion
Russia may be poised to invade another pro-Russian region in another country, NATO warned Sunday. Russia is reportedly eyeing Transnistria, a pro-Moscow breakaway region of Moldova on Ukraine's southwestern border. Although the breakaway state declared its independence from Moldova in 1990, it isn't recognized by the UN. Moldova treats it as an autonomous territory.
Earlier this week, Transnistria urged Russia to take the region, while the Moldovan government warned against annexation. There are as yet no reports of Russian troops in the area, which is landlocked and only reachable from Russia through Ukraine. However, there has reportedly been a buildup at Ukraine's eastern border in the aftermath of Crimea's referendum to join Russia. Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, said on Sunday, "There is absolutely sufficient (Russian) force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Transnistria if the decision was made to do that and that is very worrisome."
Voice of Russia, a Russian broadcasting service, claims there has been no such military buildup. "Russian armed forces are not involved in any manner of unannounced military maneuvers that would endanger the security of neighboring states," Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Sunday, contradicting Breedlove and other international officials.
Not so, maintains Breedlove. Though the Russian troops are at the Ukrainian border as part of a military exercise, its strategic location is worrisome. "A snap exercise puts an incredible force at a border," he said on Sunday. "The force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizeable and very, very ready."