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The Republic of Moldova and the War in Ukraine

April 29, 2022

A series of explosions in Transnistria is ringing alarm bells. Part of the Republic of Moldova, this pro-Russian breakaway region borders Ukraine.

Doku KW 18 | Republik Moldau
Image: Spiegel TV

With Moscow making veiled threats to intervene militarily, the Republic of Moldova is on edge.

One of Europe’s poorest nations, the Republic of Moldova has taken in some 400,000 refugees from the war in Ukraine. For Rosian Vasiloi, head of the country's border police force, helping them is a priority. With overnight temperatures still extremely cold, he wants to see as few people as possible accommodated in tents and other emergency shelters. His team work around the clock to bring the refugees to safety.

The hospitality and help provided by ordinary people is one of the sole consolations for those arriving from Ukraine. Thousands of Moldovans are offering space for refugees in their modestly-sized apartments. Anatolie Botnaru is among the hotel and guesthouse managers offering free accommodation. His staff continue to do their jobs, even though they know that no paid bookings will mean no pay for them, either. Botnaru fears that, given what is happening in Ukraine, his people might be the next who are forced to flee their homes.

The invasion of Ukraine has indeed sparked fears for many Moldovans. Like Ukraine, their country also used to be part of the Soviet Union. Transnistria, which hugs the country's eastern border with Ukraine, broke away from the Republic of Moldova in 1992. Ever since, it has been backed by Moscow. A question many Moldovans are asking themselves: if Russian forces continue their advance, will the Republic of Moldova be next? 

Lilia Brehov is the mayor of Gura Bîcului, a village just across the Dniester river from Transnistria. This was where the first refugees from Ukraine entered Moldovan-controlled territory. Local people who've shared what they little have with the new arrivals wonder if they are now facing a previously unthinkable possibility: of soon becoming refugees, themselves.


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