Pro-Moscow separatists in Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova, say they had thwarted an assassination attempt on their leader, which they accuse Ukrainian security services of organising.
Kyiv rejected the accusations on Thursday as a Kremlin “provocation” in the latest in a series of claims and counterclaims over the territory, which is wedged along Ukraine’s southwestern border with Moldova.
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Moldova’s government said it was investigating an alleged “terrorist” attack in Transnistria.
“We don’t have a confirmation of these things,” Prime Minister Dorin Recean told reporters. “The government is ready to deal with provocations.”
Russian state news agencies reported the alleged attempt on Vadim Krasnoselsky’s life. It was not immediately clear whether the Transnistrian officials had provided evidence to support their claim.
“On the instructions of the Security Service of Ukraine, a crime was being prepared against a number of officials,” the Russian state-run TASS news agency quoted the separatists as saying. “The suspects have been detained.”
In response, the Security Service of Ukraine said in a statement: “Lies and provocations are the weapons [Russia] actively uses. But today the entire world sees the true face of the aggressor country and does not believe the statements of Russia or its satellites.”
Transnistria, a mainly Russian-speaking territory, broke away from Moldova’s control in 1990, a year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and is dependent on Russian support.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, there has been constant concern that the war could spread to Transnistria due to the region’s allegiance to Moscow and location on Ukraine’s western border.
Last month, Russia accused Ukraine of planning to invade Transnistria after staging a “false flag” operation there, a claim Kyiv denied. Moldova also rejected Russia’s claim.
Moscow has said it would view any actions that threaten Russian forces stationed in Transnistria as an attack on itself.