By Grayson Quay The Week
Over the last two months, Russia’s invasion has devastated Ukraine, but it has also shifted the balance of power in Eastern Europe, raising questions about what’s next for neighboring countries. Here’s everything you need to know:
How is Moldova involved in the Russian-Ukrainian war?
Since March 1, when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko — a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — displayed a map that appeared to show Russian forces moving from southwestern Ukraine into neighboring Moldova, observers have suggested that the small Eastern European nation might be Russia’s next target.
Speculation grew last week when Russian Maj. Gen. Rustam Minnekayev said one of Russia’s war goals was to its army access to the Russian-backed Moldovan separatist region of Transnistria. Minnekayev alleged that Transnistria’s Russian-speaking population “is being oppressed,” an echo of the rationale that Putin used to justify invading Ukraine when he announced his intention to protect the mostly Russian-speaking separatists of the Donbas.
The situation grew even tenser on Tuesday when Transnistrian authorities “reported an attack on a military unit … hours after a pair of antennas broadcasting Russian radio were blown up,” according to Bloomberg. Russian state-owned news agency TASS blamed the attacks on Ukraine, while Ukrainian defense officials “accused Russia of causing the explosions as a pretext to invade Ukraine from the west,” The New York Times reported.
Despite these fears, Russia has no clear path to invading Moldova in the near future. In a Sunday appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer noted that Russian forces “are a long way from cities like Odessa and certainly from Moldova. They have a lot of fighting still to do.”