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Moldova's Separatist Transdniester Claims 'Drones Seen, Shots Fired' Near Huge Ammo Depot

By RFE/RL's Moldovan Service April 27, 2022

The self-styled Interior Ministry of Moldova's separatist Transdniester region that borders Ukraine claimed on April 27 that shots were fired at a village housing a sprawling Russian munitions depot after drones flew over from Ukraine.

"Last night, several drones were noticed in the sky over the village of Cobasna," the ministry said on its website.

"The drones were launched onto the territory of Transdniester from Ukraine." it said.

The claim, which has not been independently verified, was the latest in a series made by the Moscow-backed Transdniester authorities over the past several days that included the alleged bombing of radio relays, an unspecified attack on a separatist military unit, and explosions targeting the separatist region's Ministry of State Security.

Transdniester officials called the incidents "terrorist attacks," while the Kremlin said they were cause for "serious concern," raising fears of spillover from the war in neighboring Ukraine.

Transdniester, a narrow strip of land between Moldova proper and Ukraine, declared independence in 1990.

In 1992, Moldova and Transdniester fought a short war that was quelled by Russian forces that intervened on the side of the separatists. Some 1,000 people were killed in that conflict.

Cobasna, located around 2 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, is home to one of Eastern Europe's largest munitions depots. It houses a stockpile of some 20,000 tons of ammunition dating back to the Soviet era, guarded by some 1,500 Russian troops.

Moldova has repeatedly called on Russia to observe a pledge made at an OSCE summit in 1999 to evacuate both the munitions depot and the troops that guard it.

Besides the troops ostensibly guarding the Cobasna depot, Russia has another 400 to 500 soldiers in Transdniester who have been labeled as peacekeepers since the end of the 1992 war.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu has urged citizens to keep calm and increase security measures following the incidents in Transdniester.

Sandu said on April 26 that the alleged attacks in Transdniester were an attempt to escalate tensions, blaming "pro-war factions" within the territory's administration.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States is "still analyzing the cause of blasts" in Moldova.

"It's something that we will stay focused on," Austin said on April 26 during a news conference at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

With reporting by AFP

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/moldova-transdniester- ammo-depot-cobasna/31823423.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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