Russian-backed Transnistria claims attack near ammunition depot was launched from Ukraine

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A billboard in Tiraspol, the self-proclaimed capital of Transnistria, and a tank monument recognizing World War II.Charles Davis/Insider
  • Transnistria is a Russian-backed breakaway region in Moldova that's home to 300,000 people.

  • Authorities there reported a Wednesday attack on an ammunition depot and said it came from Ukraine.

  • The assertion could not be independently verified.

CHIŞINĂU, Moldova — Authorities in the breakaway republic Transnistria on Wednesday claimed that shots were fired from Ukraine in the vicinity of an ammunition depot guarded by Russian troops.

The claim, which could not be independently verified, comes after a series of reported explosions in the territory within Moldova, which borders Ukraine and is home to an estimated 1,500 Russian soldiers.

Ukraine has not claimed credit for any of the incidents, which included a purported attack with a grenade launcher on a building used by security services in Tiraspol, the self-proclaimed regional capital.

In a statement posted to its official Telegram, the government of Transnistria said that drones launched from Ukraine were seen Tuesday night in the sky above Klobasna, in the region's north, where the ammunition depot is located. The next morning, "shots were fired from the Ukrainian side in the direction of" the town, it said.

Vitalie Marinuta, a former defense minister for Moldova, told Insider this week that the blasts in Transnistria had the "signature" of Russian military intelligence, perhaps part of an effort to build support for further intervention there or force Ukraine to divert resources amid fears the territory could be used to launch attacks against it.

The Moldovan government has also said the attacks were mere "pretexts" for heightening tensions.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu has also suggested there may be a split among the military and business interests in Transnistria, with the latter reticent to get involved in the Ukraine war. The territory relieves heavily on subsidies from Russia, but it also exports most of its goods to Europe — a relationship that has enriched local oligarchs.

On Wednesday, Vitaly Ignatiev, the foreign minister for Transnistria — which is not internationally recognized, having broken from Moldova in 1992 with Russian support — insisted that his government wanted nothing to do with the war next door.

"We are not a threat to Ukraine," Ignatiev said.

"For our part, we are doing everything to ensure peace and security," he continued, adding that Transnistrian officials have repeatedly stated "no plans or preparatory actions in relation to Ukraine."

When Insider visited last weekend, Russian flags were flying on government buildings but there was no visible public support for Moscow's invasion.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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