Speed Reads

Putin's next conquest?

Belarusian president displays map suggesting Putin plans to attack Moldova

Russia may be planning aggressive moves against the Republic of Moldova, according to a map Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko displayed during a meeting of his country's security council.

Lukashenko is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He seemingly allowed Putin to use Belarus as a staging ground for his invasion of Ukraine and is reportedly planning to commit his own country's troops to the conflict.

The map, which Financial Times Moscow bureau chief Max Seddon shared on Twitter, shows Ukraine split into its four operational command districts and features red arrows that appear to indicate planned troop movements.

One of those arrows originates in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa, which Russian troops have not yet reached, and terminates on the other side of the Moldovan border.

In January, Ukrainian intelligence warned that Russia could initiate false flag operations in Moldova to justify intervening in the pro-Russian separatist-controlled region of Transnistria, according to Al Jazeera.

Transnistria, a narrow strip of land with around 400,000 inhabitants, is internationally recognized as part of Moldova, but the Moldovan government has exercised no authority over the breakaway republic since 1992. Russian troops have been stationed in Transnistria ever since.

In 2014, after Putin seized control of Crimea, the head of Transnistria's parliament requested to join Russia, BBC reported at the time.