US Citizens Urged to Leave Moldova Breakaway Region Immediately

The US State Department issued a warning on Monday evening for US citizens to leave or not to travel to the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria.

The State Department cited "unusual Russian troop movements around [neighbouring] Ukraine and the unresolved conflict between this breakaway region and the central government".

It said that US citizens in Transnistria "should depart immediately via commercial or private means".

Russia has been maintaining about 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers in Transnistria for almost 30 years as peacekeepers and as part of the so-called Operative Group of Russian Troops, OGTR, which is under the control of the Western Russian Military District in St Petersburg.

Russia has maintained a military presence since 1992, when Moscow intervened in the Transnistrian war to support separatist forces. The Russian soldiers are said to be guarding a Soviet-era ammo depot in Cobasna.

"Transnistria can also mobilise 20 to 30,000 reservists, [Transnistrian] KGB troops, Interior Ministry [forces] and Cossack mercenaries. So when Russia wants to stage a military challenge to Moldova or against Ukraine, it can do it at any time," the former Moldovan Defence Minister, Anatol Salaru, told TVR Moldova on Monday evening,

The US State Department noted that "Transnistria is a breakaway region that is not under the control of the Moldovan government in Chisinau".

It also said that visitors might have difficulty at checkpoints along the roads leading to and from Transnistria.

"Photographing of military installations and security forces is prohibited and can lead to problems with the authorities," it warned.

It also said that the US government has limited capacity to provide emergency services to US...

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