The Russian military has conducted additional training exercises in Transdniestria, a pro-Russia separatist region of Moldova that Western countries allege is Moscow’s next target for invasion after Crimea.
Russian Western Military District spokesman Colonel Oleg Kochetkov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying that the Russian forces stationed in Transdniestria had ‘conducted an anti-terrorism drill and practiced operations to rebuff an attack on their military base’.
Moscow, which has a permanent garrison of peacekeepers in the region, also staged war games last week, to train troops for ‘an eventual enemy attack’.
Kochetkov told the news agency that the troops were being trained ‘to safeguard civilians in combat zones’.
Nato supreme allied commander general Philip Breedlove had earlier claimed that Russia has amassed a very sizeable and ready military force on the eastern border of Ukraine to ‘run to Transdniestria if the decision was made to do that’.
The Transdniestria region had requested the Russian Parliament to draft a law that would enable the separatist region to join the Russian Federation on the same day it integrated Crimea.
The Russian Government is expected to consider the accession request as soon as Thursday, as reported earlier by Bloomberg.
However, Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti had warned that any move by Russia to accept their request ‘would be a step in the wrong direction’.
The US and European Union (EU) have also warned the Kremlin that any attempt to further interfere with Ukraine or other sovereign regions would only lead to further isolation and sanctions.
Transdniestria declared independence from Moldova in 1990, but their status is yet to be recognised by the international community, including Russia.