‘This is Putin’s plan’ Russia hatches deflection ploy as Moscow maps out new Soviet empire

On February 24, Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, which he said was to force Kyiv to “recognise the independence of the Donbas people’s republics”. Now, Moldova has warned an alleged attack on a building in its separatist Transnistria region is part of an effort to inflame tensions – and create a reason for further conflict.

According to Russian state media outlet TASS, a “series of explosions” occurred at the Ministry of State Security in Tiraspol, the self-proclaimed capital of Transnistria.

Hinting at an invasion of Moldova, Russia has said it “would like to avoid” intervening in the breakaway region.

Russian Major General Rustam Minnekaye has said “control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria”.

It has 1,500 soldiers stationed in the Moldovan territory.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, representing North West Leicestershire, said of efforts to create a “pretext” to invasion: “This is Putin’s plan and something I have been warning about since the invasion of Ukraine started.”

The area gained de facto autonomy from Moldova after Russian forces intervened in 1992, with about 300,000 people living in the enclave which borders Ukraine.

Transnistria President Vadim Krasnoselsky claimed on Tuesday: “As the first conclusions of urgent operational and investigative measures suggest, these attacks can be traced to Ukraine.

“I presume that those who plotted these attacks pursue the goal of drawing Transnistria into the conflict. I can say for sure that these attempts will fail.”

READ MORE: Ukraine LIVE: Russia threatens to bomb Britons in ‘immediate’ attack

In a statement, Moldova’s Bureau of Reintegration Policies expressed “concern” about the incident.

They cited reports “unidentified people fired shots from grenade launchers at the headquarters of the so-called security structures in the region”.

The statement urged calm, arguing the “objective of the incident” is to “create pretexts of tensioning the security situation in the Transnistrian region”.

It comes after unidentified assailants blew up two antennae of the regional radio centre in the community of Mayak of the Grigoriopol district in Transnistria on April 26.

DON’T MISS

It comes US Republican Senator Angus King (I-ME) said on MSNBC Putin has a “fantasy of rebuilding the Soviet Union”.

He said Putin’s nuke policy of “escalate to de-escalate” makes him “the most dangerous single individual in history”.

Mr King said: “He’s a dictator, he’s amoral, he has this fantasy of rebuilding the Soviet Union … and he has nuclear weapons.”

US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin said America wants to see “Russia weakened” so it cannot pursue any further hostile military expansion.

He said Russia has “already lost … a lot of its troops” during the war and that Putin has “failed” in his attempted invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Austin said: “So it has already lost a lot of military capability. And a lot of its troops, quite frankly. And we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability.”

In a statement, Moldova’s Bureau of Reintegration Policies expressed “concern” about the incident.

They cited reports “unidentified people fired shots from grenade launchers at the headquarters of the so-called security structures in the region”.

The statement urged calm, arguing the “objective of the incident” is to “create pretexts of tensioning the security situation in the Transnistrian region”.

It comes after unidentified assailants blew up two antennae of the regional radio centre in the community of Mayak of the Grigoriopol district in Transnistria on April 26.

On February 24, Putin claimed the operation was to “demilitarise and denazify Ukraine” and “bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians”.

Fighting in the Donbas region of Ukraine started in 2014 when Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions broke away from Ukrainian government control and proclaimed themselves independent.

Between 2014 and early 2022, more than 14,000 people had died in conflict in the Donbas.

Russia has alleged there were reports of genocide, mass graves and chemical weapons production in Donbas.

Before Russia commenced its “special military operation” in Ukraine, the US warned Moscow could make false claims about the conflict in Donbas to justify an invasion.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “These are false narratives that Russia is developing as a pretext for military actions against Ukraine.”