Ukraine is laying the groundwork for an incursion into Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, which hosts a Russian peacekeeping force, a source familiar with the situation claimed to RT Russian on Wednesday.
The source alleged that Kiev deployed up to 4,000 service members in April to Odessa Region, which borders Transnistria, in preparation for an assault. The troops in the area are currently changing their positions every two or three days, it was claimed.
Preparations for their arrival are said to have begun in March, when local authorities in three small towns and villages not far from the border with Transnistria handed over a number of agricultural sheds to the Ukrainian military so that it could store equipment and accommodate personnel.
The source claims that according to the plan, between May 9 and 15 one group of Ukrainian forces would move towards Tiraspol, the region’s de facto capital, to stage an armed provocation to divert the attention of the Russian military. In the meantime, another group would attempt to storm an ammunition depot in the village of Kolbasna on the border with Ukraine, the source added.
Should Ukrainian forces launch their attack on May 9, it would coincide with the Victory Day celebrations that commemorate the Soviet triumph over Nazi Germany in World War II. The occasion is a major holiday in Russia and numerous other former Soviet republics.
Transnistria declared independence from Moldova during the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, although the government in Chisinau never recognized the move. Moldova tried to exert control over the breakaway region by force in 1992 but was unsuccessful, resulting in the conflict being frozen. A ceasefire is maintained by a peacekeeping force which includes about 400 Russian soldiers. The region also hosts a Russian military base.
In late February, Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of ramping up preparations to invade Transnistria amid the conflict between Moscow and Kiev. Russian officials claimed Ukraine had accumulated a significant number of troops and military equipment on the border, warning that Moscow “would adequately respond to this provocative act which is being prepared by Ukraine.”
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