Reports suggest the Belarusian president accidentally revealed that Moscow was planning to invade the breakaway Moldovan state of Transnistria
A televised meeting of security officials in Belarus may have inadvertently revealed that Russia is planning to expand its war in Ukraine by invading neighboring Moldova, according to Western media. However, the reports specified that the target of the attack was the breakaway Moldovan state of Transnistria, a close Russian ally.
The information was based on a meeting on Tuesday in which Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stood in front of a map apparently indicating Russian military operations in Ukraine. Belarusian journalist Tadeusz Giczan claimed that the map shows Ukrainian military installations that were destroyed by missiles launched from Belarus, as well as a possible future attack from the Odessa region in southwestern Ukraine in Transnistria.
Fox News, Newsweek and other US outlets picked up on the alleged blunder. However, Lukashenko has denied that Belarus is taking part in Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. As for the idea that Russia would organize forces in Odessa to attack Transnistria, the breakaway region is populated largely by ethnic Russians and already hosts Russian troops.
Indeed, Transnistria is financially supported by Russia and maintains special military, political, cultural and economic relations with Moscow. The Russian government has not recognized the breakaway province as a sovereign nation, but it is Transnistria’s closest ally. A 2006 referendum found that most residents of Transnistria wanted their territory to be part of Russia. Many already have Russian passports. Mikhail Burla, then parliament speaker in Tiraspol, asked Moscow to annex Transnistria after Russia reabsorbed Crimea in 2014.
Western media, including The New York Times, previously reported that Russian troops were stationed in Transnistria in preparation for the invasion of Ukraine last week. The United States and NATO proposed last month that Russia withdraw its forces from Transnistria as part of a deal to ease security concerns in Eastern Europe.
Fox News has acknowledged that Transnistria is controlled by “pro-Russian separatists” and has a Russian military presence, but the outlet did not attempt to reconcile how it could also be a target of attack for Moscow. Some media, such as The Hill, have suggested that Transnistria is a target of attack without mentioning that it is a Russian ally.