Russia may invade close ally, Western media claims
A televised meeting of security officials in Belarus may have inadvertently revealed that Russia plans to expand its war in Ukraine by invading neighboring Moldova, according to Western media reports. However, the stories specified the attack target as Moldova’s breakaway state of Transnistria, a close Russian ally.
The reports were based on a meeting Tuesday in which Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko stood in front of a map, apparently pointing to Russian military operations in Ukraine. Belarusian journalist Tadeusz Giczan claimed that the map shows Ukrainian military facilities that have been destroyed by missiles launched from Belarus, as well as a possible future attack from the Odessa area of southwestern Ukraine into Transnistria.
Fox News, Newsweek and other US media outlets picked up on the alleged blunder. However, Lukashenko has denied that Belarus is participating in Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. As for the notion that Russia would stage forces in Odessa to attack Transnistria, the breakaway region is populated largely by ethnic Russians and already hosts Russian troops.
In fact, Transnistria is financially supported by Russia and has special military, political, cultural and economic relations with Moscow. The Russian government hasn’t recognized the breakaway province as a sovereign nation, but it’s Transnistria’s closest ally. A 2006 referendum found that most Transnistria residents want their territory to become part of Russia. Many already carry Russian passports. Mikhail Burla, then parliamentary speaker in Tiraspol, asked Moscow to annex Transnistria after Russia reabsorbed Crimea in 2014.
Western media outlets, including the New York Times, previously reported that Russian troops were stationed in Transnistria during the buildup to last week’s invasion of Ukraine. The US and NATO last month proposed that Russia remove its forces from Transnistria as part of an agreement to ease security concerns in Eastern Europe.
Fox News acknowledged that Transnistria is controlled by “pro-Russian separatists” and has a Russian military presence, but the outlet made no attempt to reconcile how it could also be an attack target for Moscow. Some outlets, such as The Hill, suggested that Transnistria is an attack target without mentioning that it’s a Russian ally.