US and Ukrainian officials discussed the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin may try to invade Moldova, Politico reports.
“I think where they go from here remains to be seen,” deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told NBC News on Sunday. “But they are a long way from cities like Odesa and certainly from Moldova.”
Russian forces “have a lot of fighting still to do,” Finer added, “and we think the Ukrainians are going to be very effective in fending them off.”
Asked how the US would respond toward moves against Moldova, Finer said the US has “shown an ability to be nimble” and “to adjust our assistance and our approach as the Russian war aims have evolved.”
“We will continue to do that over time, depending on how things evolve on the battlefield,” he said.
Russia eyes breakaway region:
The comments came after Russian commander Rustam Minnekayev last week said that Russia has its eye set on the Moldovan breakaway region of Transdniestria in the next phase of the war.
“Control over the south of Ukraine is another way to Transdniestria, where there is also evidence that the Russian-speaking population is being oppressed,” he told Russian officials last week.
The pro-Russia breakaway region borders southwestern Ukraine, near the port city of Odesa.
Minnekayev said that Russia hopes to establish a land bridge from Crimea across eastern Ukraine and southern Ukraine to Transdniestria.
Moldova has “deep concerns:
Moldova’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration said it called up Russian ambassador Oleg Vasnetov to express “deep concerns” about last week’s remarks.
“These statements are unfounded and contradict the position of the Russian Federation supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, within its internationally recognized borders,” the ministry said in a statement.
During the meeting with Vesnetov, it “was reiterated that the Republic of Moldova, in line with its Constitution, is a neutral state and this principle must be respected by all international actors, including the Russian Federation,” the ministry said.