Support will grow as the EU’s own border force arrives at posts like this to help manage new arrivals, lives crammed into backseats and suitcases, making this the new frontier de facto from the EU and free the Moldovan forces to patrol further.
But they cannot move entirely freely, because within Moldova’s internationally recognized borders is a breakaway region called Transnistria, enclosed by the Dniester River and backed by Russia.
As we traveled near Transnistria, while still on Moldovan soil, we encountered Russians manning military checkpoints and identifying themselves as peacekeepers.
We are right in the middle of Moldova’s farmland. But a few hundred meters away, Russian soldiers asked for our passports. And that checkpoint, well, it’s manned by Moldovans, but go a little further in that direction, and you end up in the separatist territory of Transnistria. And, for years, it housed over 1,000 Russian soldiers.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a brief but brutal conflict divided Moldova. The Kremlin backed Russian speakers who declared an independent state that remains unrecognized elsewhere.