Putin's annexation 'changes rules' for Russian military says caller
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This week, Russian president Vladimir Putin declared the accession of four Ukrainian territories to Russia after referendums that have been dismissed as sham votes. The ceremony held in Moscow to celebrate the occasion was branded a “freak show” by Ukraine’s leaders, but Putin says this was the will of “millions of people.”
Russia’s military has suffered a number of setbacks during the invasion, but Putin’s forces currently occupy around 20 percent of Ukrainian territory.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ben Hodges, who served as commanding general of the United States Army Europe, was asked if he believes Russia could target other countries in eastern Europe.
In response, he said: “If Putin is successful in Ukraine, yes. In the early 90s, Russia supported the breakaway of Transnistria, we are over 30 years into this. Russia attacked Georgia in the Caucasus. This is what they do. We have to finally stop that.”
In 2008, Russia and Georgia fought in a conflict centred around South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway territories which are a part of Georgia but have their own governments.
Transnistria, meanwhile, is also a Russian-backed breakaway territory but is technically part of Moldova. Russian rhetoric in recent years has caused concern amongst Moldovans who fear their country could be attacked.
Igor Munteanu, a former career diplomat who served as Moldova’s ambassador to the US, spoke to Politico in May about this threat.
He said: “What started as concern is quickly turning into panic. There are statements coming from the Russian side that make it clear Moldova is a target and there may be plans to invade from Transnistria.
“But society is divided about what to do — Ukraine is warning us we are next, while our leaders insist it’s best to appease Moscow by staying out of the war.”
There are Russian troops in Transnistria, and Moscow’s foreign minister warned Moldova against “endangering” these men in a diplomatic row just last month. Sergei Lavrov warned that any Moldovan intervention could result in a military response.
He added: “Transnistria and Russia support direct dialogue, but judging by statements made by President Maia Sandu and her team, they do not want such dialogue, as they are being directed by the US and EU to reject talks.
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