The next country on Putin’s target list has reportedly been revealed as warnings are issued of further invasions across Europe.
The small country of Moldova which borders beleaguered Ukraine is believed to be the next target on Vladimir Putin’s expansion list as the Russian president seeks to increase his reach across Eastern Europe.
The country is less than a third the size of London with a population of 2.6million and it has now been suggested it could be the next country to be targeted by soldiers and missiles as the Russia seeks to create a path.
Moldova summoned a Russian ambassador on Friday (April 22) after a senior Russian commander said he was seeking to force his way into a part of the country where Russian soldiers already reside and expressed a desire to create a breakaway region .
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has previously warned that invading his country is “just the beginning” as Putin takes aim at other countries.
Concerns have also risen as Russia begins to step up its attacks on the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, just 55km from Moldova’s border.
Rustam Minnekaev, the acting commander of Russia’s Central Military District, said: “Controlling southern Ukraine is another way out into Transnistria, where there are cases of oppressed Russian speakers,” NewsAU reports.
Transnistria is a small, torn region of Moldova where pro-Russian separatists have been armed and supported by Moscow. It is similar to Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine which are home to Russian speakers and split from Kyiv in 2014.
Although Moldova denies that Russian speakers are oppressed, Russia claims they are and often uses this excuse to engage in military action with former Soviet states. The small strip of land is not recognized by any nation, not even Russia, as a separate entity, although it still remains a target for Putin.
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The Moldovan Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “[We] consider these statements to be unfounded and contradicting Russia’s position in favor of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country within internationally recognized borders.
Speaking in his address on Friday evening, Zelenskyy made it clear that other countries are on Putin’s radar. He said: “The invasion of Ukraine is just the beginning. Then they want to invade other countries.
He continued, “All nations that, like us, believe in the victory of life over death must fight with us. They must help us because we are the first. And who will come next?