Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

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Russia’s Defense Ministry has accused Ukraine of “preparing an armed provocation” against Moldova’s pro-Moscow separatist region of Transnistria “in the near future,” state-run news agency TASS reported Thursday. 

No evidence or further details were offered to support the ministry’s claim. 

“According to current information, the Kyiv regime is preparing an armed provocation against the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic in the near future, which will be carried out by units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including involving the Azov nationalist formation,” the ministry said, according to TASS.
The ministry said the “pretext for the invasion” would be to “stage an alleged attack by Russian troops from the territory of Transnistria,” TASS reported. 
“’To this end, the Ukrainian saboteurs participating in the staged invasion will be disguised wearing uniforms of Russian Federation troops,” it said.

Transnistria tensions: Moldova, situated between Ukraine and Romania, was part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991. 

The separatist region of Transnistria is a strip of land bordered by the Dniester River on the west and Ukraine on the east, which declared itself a Soviet republic in 1990, opposing any attempt by Moldova at the time to become an independent state or to merge with Romania.

Anxieties about Russia’s long-term plans for Transnistria have only intensified after Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last February.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington has “deep concern” about Moscow’s efforts to destabilize Moldova’s government. 

The remarks came just days after Moldovan President Maia Sandu accused Russia of plotting a coup in Moldova and dragging Transnistria into its war. 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed Sandu’s claims as “completely unfounded and unsubstantiated.”

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