Russia is set to evacuate families of Russian troops stationed in the breakaway region of Transnistria, according to a report by Ukrainian intelligence.
The atmosphere in the region is tense after explosions were reported in its capital city Tiraspol in late April.
No one has yet claimed responsibility, with Russia attributing the attacks to Ukraine.
Here’s everything you need to know about Transnistria and what this means for the war in Ukraine.
What is Transnistria?
Transnistria is a breakaway region of the small eastern European country of Moldova.
Located between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova integrated into the Soviet Union in the 1940s, having previously been a region of Romania.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, a war ensued between people in the newly formed Republic of Moldova and those in Transnistria, who wanted to become separate and maintain their ties to the Russia.
The conflict lasted for two years before a ceasefire was established in 1992 and the region has been self-governed ever since, with Moldova having no control.
Transnistria has kept its ties and traditions from its Soviet past: Lenin statues still adorn public buildings and Soviet military parades are a yearly tradition.
Where is Transnistria on a map?
Transnistria is located to the south east of Moldova’s capital city Chisinau, on the border with Ukraine.
The region has no coastline and is landlocked. It does not share a border with Russia, as it sits between Moldova and Ukraine.
Transnistria fought to be seperate from Moldova in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union, as it did not want to give up its ties to Russia.
It has seven districts and is 1,607 square miles in size, with its two main cities being Tiraspol and Bender.
What is the population of Transnistria?
The population of Transnistria is around 350,000, with most people being located around the two biggest cities - Tiraspol and Bender.
What are Transnistria's ties to Russia?
The separatist state has been backed by Russia since its establishment in 1992. Transnistria was formed due to its desire to not lose its Soviet ties, so the region has held long standing connections with Russia.
There are currently 1,500 Russian soldiers stationed in Transnistria, with Russia describing them as “peacekeepers”.
According to a report from Ukranian intelligence, Russia is evacuating the families of these soliders from the region.
The report said: “Armed formations of the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova are serving in an intensified mode. Preparations are underway for the evacuation of the families of officers of the operational group of Russian troops.”
There are growing concerns that Russia may look to use Transnistria as a base in order to attack Ukraine from the west, with fears that it may also be a threat to Moldova.
Could the Ukraine war spread to Moldova?
While Transnistria have said they have no plans to get involved in the conflict, there are real fears that the war in Ukraine will spread to Moldova.
The region already has 1,500 Russian troops stationed there and a Russian General has referred to Moldova as a place where the Russian-speaking population are being oppressed. A similar claim was made before the invasion of Ukraine.
Moldova has denied the accusations, calling them: “unfounded and contradicting Russia’s position in support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country within internationally recognised borders”.
Ukrainian intelligence has reported that Russia plans to create a land corridor in the region, connecting Transnistria with the Ukrainian annexed regions of Donbas and Crimea.