The French president views incidents in Transnistria as warning signs
French President Emmanuel Macron, citing recent incidents in Moldova's breakaway region of Transnistria, sees a possibility of the Ukraine conflict spreading to neighboring countries.
Speaking at a press conference with his Moldovan counterpart Maia Sandu on Thursday, Macron said that Russia's "unacceptable aggression" against Ukraine "poses a threat to stability for the whole region and, in particular, for Moldova."
Over the last several weeks, Transnistria has reported numerous attacks from drones near its border with Ukraine. The self-proclaimed republic defined the mysterious incidents as acts of "terror." From Macron's point of view, these incidents "show that the spread of conflict to neighboring countries cannot be ruled out."
The French president emphasized that his country is closely following the developments in the region and remains fully committed to "stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova."
Macron's remarks echoed a similar statement by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Last month, the Pentagon chief, commenting on the Transnistria events, said that his country does not want to see "any spillover" of the conflict in Ukraine. Russia, whose peacekeeping force has been stationed in the breakaway region since the 1992 armistice froze the conflict with Chisinau, also said that it was "watching the situation very closely."
Noting that Moldova, as Ukraine's neighbor, is facing a "particularly difficult" humanitarian situation, Macron hailed the country's generosity when it comes to Ukrainian refugees and pledged to work with partners on providing long-term financial support to Chisinau.
Macron also expressed hope that the European Union would quickly issue an opinion on Moldova's membership application, which the country filed, along with Ukraine and Georgia, following the launch of Russia's military operation in Ukraine.
"We understand that joining the EU is a long process, we do not want a shortcut," Sandu responded.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.