Nearly two months after Russia invaded Ukraine, a Russian general described Russia’s next phase of military operations as what may be an invasion of Moldova.
In comments reported by the Russian state-run TASS news agency on Friday, Russian Maj. Gen. Rustam Minnekaev, Deputy Commander of the Central Military District, said the “second phase” of Russian military operations in Ukraine will focus on establishing a “land corridor” between Russia, the Russian-occupied territory of Crimea, and Transnistria, which is a pro-Russian breakaway region of neighboring Moldova.
“Since the beginning of the second phase of the special operation, it has already begun, literally two days ago, one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine,” Minnekaev said.
While the Russian military has mainly said the second phase of its Ukraine invasion will focus on capturing the eastern Donbas region, Minnekaev said the operation could cut across the south of Ukraine and link up with Transnistria.
“Control over the South of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population,” Minnekaev said.
Russia cited concerns about Ukrainian attacks on pro-Russian separatist regions of eastern Ukraine before it launched its invasion. Before launching the full invasion of Ukraine, Russia deployed troops to the separatist parts of Ukraine under the pretense of a peacekeeping mission. Minnekaev’s remarks about oppression against the Russian-speaking population in Transnistria suggest Russia will take a similar approach to the separatist region of Moldova.
Minnekaev’s remarks about Russian invasion forces establishing a land corridor through southern Ukraine to Transnistria would suggest Russian forces will either have to cross over Moldova’s sovereign borders to link up with the separatist region, or the separatist region will have to take control of a section of the Moldovan border to open the way to Russian forces.
“Apparently, we are now at war with the whole world, as it was in the Great Patriotic War, all of Europe, the whole world was against us,” Minnekaev continued. “And now the same thing, they never liked Russia.”
Russia has used the term “Great Patriotic War” to refer to the fighting on the Eastern Front during World War II, when German forces invaded the country after Nazi Germany broke its early war non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Contrary to Minnekaev’s assessment that “the whole world was against us” during World War II, the Soviet Union was actually aligned with other nations fighting against Nazi Germany and received $11.3 billion (the equivalent of $180 billion in 2020) of food, weapons and military supplies through the U.S. Lend-Lease Act.