Russia has spent the last couple of decades fomenting war in several former Soviet republics.
We know about the separatist Donbas region in Ukraine, but there are similar Russian-backed separatist regions in Moldova and Georgia. (Nagorno-Karabakh is disputed territory with Armenia.) Indeed, the one in Moldova, Transnistria, the one in Moldova, sandwiched on the Ukrainian border, actually piped up today, demanding its independence.
This was clearly the plan all along, as it was the Donbas region’s choreographed calls for independence that precipitated the Russian invasion. And we don’t even need to speculate, as Belorussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko publiclly posed with what was clearly a top-secret map:
Here he is on Belorussian state TV explaining Russia and his own country’s invasion plans. I bet Putin didn’t expect him to reveal this little detail:
That’s an arrow from Odessa, which is on the path of advancing Russian forces, to Transnistria, where 1,500 Russian soldiers are already stationed. (Ukraine just blew a connecting bridge to prevent those Russians from threatening Odessa.)
At this point, there’s nothing much Russia can do about that territory. Things would be looking a lot different had Russia beaten Ukraine as easily as it imagined. But here’s the thing—governments in Moldova and Georgia have to be quite interested in Russia’s problems. Because if they continue at this rate, with Russia facing severe military and economic pressures, those countries may decide that this is as good a time as any to recapture those lost territories.