Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, speaking in Germany, said the US was looking into the cause of the explosions and was “really not sure what all this is about”.
“Certainly, we do not want to see any repercussions,” he said. “It is important to make sure that we do everything we can to ensure that Ukraine succeeds. And that is the best way to address that.”
It’s too early to “know exactly what happened here, and who’s responsible,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told CNN in an interview earlier Tuesday.
“We’re watching this as best we can,” he told the News Network.
A Russian military commander said last week that one of the goals was to create a machine gun Passage through southern Ukraine To Transnistria – a strip of land with a population of about 500,000 that is supported by Moscow and hosts Russian troops. The region, which broke away after the collapse of the Soviet Union and sparked conflict in the early 1990s, is not recognized as independent by any state, but operates separately from Moldova.
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It was not clear whether the leader’s comments on Transnistria reflected official policy, though Ukraine described them as evidence of the Kremlin’s ambitions outside its borders and Moldova summoned the Russian ambassador to express “deep concern”.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blasts. On Monday, a Moldovan government body warned of possible attempts to “create pretexts for the tense security situation in the Transnistrian region,” and Ukraine’s Defense Ministry described the bombings as a “planned provocation by the Russian special services.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said, on Tuesday, that the country wants to avoid a scenario that “it will have to intervene in the conflict in Transnistria,” in a statement published by the Russian news agency (RIA) describing news of the bombings as “alarming.” The head of the pro-Moscow separatist forces fighting to expand their grip in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushlin, said recent events in Transnistria will “require the continuation” of Russian military operations.
The President of Transnistria, Vadim Krasnoselsky, blamed Ukraine on Tuesday for the “effects of the terrorist attacks,” the Russian news agency TASS reported.
Moldovan President Maya Sandu accused factions in the breakaway region of trying to “destabilize the situation”.
The Washington Post could not independently verify either side’s allegations.
In Transnistria, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said that the explosions in the village of Mayak on Tuesday morning destroyed two antennas transmitting Russian radio. And it published pictures of the collapsed towers, a day after it announced that several explosions targeted the building of the Ministry of State Security in the capital, Tiraspol, and that preliminary information indicated that rocket-propelled grenades were fired from a rocket launcher.
The ministry said there were no injuries. The Transnistrian leader’s office reported a third incident on Tuesday, an attack on a military unit near the village of Barkani, without giving further details.
With the security threat level in the region rising, Moscow said it was “closely watching” Transnistria. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that there were no plans for contact between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Moldovan counterpart Sandu. “Of course, there is news from there that is concerning,” he said.
Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.