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Moldova raises security after explosions in breakaway region near Ukraine

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Moldova raises security after explosions in breakaway region near Ukraine
Moldova's president, Maia Sandu, convened a meeting of her security council as reports of explosions in the breakaway region of Transnistria raised concern that Russia could expand its war in Ukraine. Photo by Dumitru Doru/EPA-EFE

April 26 (UPI) -- The Eastern European country of Moldova stepped up security efforts Tuesday as reports of explosions prompted fears that Russia may seek to expand the scope of its war with neighboring Ukraine.

Moldova's president, Maia Sandu, convened a meeting of her security council after reports of explosions in the region of Transnistria, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists and permanently hosts 1,500 Russian troops and an arms depot.

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Sandu called the meeting after local authorities reported that two antennas carrying Russian radio broadcasts were blown up Tuesday morning and the region's state security ministry in Tiraspol faced shelling by a hand grenade launcher.

Officials in Transnistria installed military checkpoints at entrances to cities in the region and canceled an annual May 9 victory day parade following the incidents.

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Following the meeting, Sandu said certain unnamed "forces inside Transnistria" were in "favor of war" and were interested in destabilizing the region.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Russia did not know who was responsible for the attacks but suspected it was an attempt to "destabilize the situation" in the region.

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A Moldovan government body on Monday warned of possible attempts to "create pretexts for straining the security in the Transnistrian region."

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The Ukrainian Defense Ministry called the explosions a "planned provocation by the Russian special services" and President Volodymyr Zelensky also accused Russia of attempting to destabilize the region.

"This is just one of the steps of the Russian federation. This is happening to destabilize the region and threaten Moldova," he said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a press conference in Germany that the United States is examining the cause of the explosions but is "not really sure of what that's all about."

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"Certainly we don't want to see any spillover," he said. "It's important to make sure that we do everything that we can to ensure that Ukraine is successful. And that's the best way to address that."

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