Russia halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday, after blasts in a breakaway region of neighbouring Moldova led Kyiv to accuse Moscow of seeking to expand the Ukraine war further into Europe.
The Russian energy giant Gazprom said it had cut supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, in Moscow’s latest use of gas as a weapon in a conflict that has now dragged into its third month and claimed thousands of lives.
Explosions this week targeting the state security ministry, a radio tower and military unit in neighbouring Moldova’s region of Transnistria — occupied by Moscow’s forces for decades — followed a Kremlin commander’s claims Russian speakers in the country were being oppressed.
That triggered alarm that Moldova could be Russia’s next target in its push into Europe, with Moscow having exploited similar fears after launching its bloody invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
“Russia wants to destabilise the Transnistrian region,” Mykhaylo Podolyak, a Ukraine presidential aide, wrote on Twitter.
“If Ukraine falls, tomorrow Russian troops will be at Chisinau’s gates,” he said, referring to Moldova’s capital.
The United States echoed similar concerns — though stopped short of backing Kyiv’s contention that Russia was responsible.
“We fully support Moldova’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.