Global Affairs

After Ukraine, why Moldova may be in Russia's sights

The small and poor nation’s value to Moscow lies in allowing Russia to expand its military options while it goes about trying to recover parts of the old Soviet empire.

Russian troops at the entrance to the village of Varnita, in Transnistria, on March 4, 2022. PHOTO: NYTIMES
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Since ordering his troops to invade Ukraine two months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not publicly issued any operational orders as military commander-in-chief. Instead, he has left it to the Russian Ministry of Defence to explain the various stages of what Moscow still gingerly calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Staying out of the limelight is Mr Putin's way of warding off any hint of failure from a president who has to appear infallible. But it also allows Russian army commanders to announce new objectives and targets in their Ukraine war without worrying about diplomatic niceties and without the need to justify what they propose to do. Instead, brute force is the only justification.

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