A mysterious drone attack destroyed a Russian Mi-8 helicopter in Transnistria

A drone strike at a military installation in Moldova’s breakaway republic of Transnistria on Sunday destroyed a Mi-8 helicopter and ignited a fire, authorities in the pro-Russia region said.

The area’s pro-Russia officials blamed the strike on Ukraine.

Moldova’s Bureau for Reintegration Policies said in a statement that after examining video footage, they “do not confirm any attack” on Transnistria and called it “an attempt to cause fear and panic in the region.”

It added that the military equipment destroyed in the footage, which appeared across social media, “has not worked for several years,” and that the authorities in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, were in contact with Ukraine.

Russia bases about 1,500 troops in Transnistria, nominally as peacekeepers, guarding huge Soviet-era weapons and ammunition stockpiles at the military depot in Cobasna. The base hit by the drone on Sunday was in Tiraspol, the region’s capital, and it wasn’t immediately clear if any Russian troops were at the site.

The attack comes weeks after officials in Transnistria appealed to Moscow for protection as tensions escalated with Moldova’s pro-Western government.

Legislators in Moldova’s Russia-backed breakaway region of Transnistria used a rare meeting on Wednesday to appeal to Moscow and the European Union and other international bodies for help amid mounting socio-economic pressure they blame on Moldova’s pro-Western government.

Moldovan breakaway region appeals to Russia as a spat with the pro-Western government worsens.

This image released by Moldova’s Border Police on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, shows, according to the official statement, remains of a Shahed-type drone that crashed near the Etulia, Moldova, near the Moldova-Ukraine border and in the general area of the Ukrainian Danube port of Ismail. The port was the target of a Russian air strike in the early hours of Feb. 10.

Moldova destroyed explosives found in a Shahed drone that strayed from the war in Ukraine

Moldova, a candidate to join the European Union, imposed new customs duties on Jan. 1 on imports to and exports from Transnistria, which borders Ukraine. Transnistria isn’t recognized by any U.N. member countries, including Russia, which maintains close ties to the region.

Late last month, members of the Transnistrian congress used a rare meeting in the regional capital, Tiraspol, to ask Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, to “implement measures for defending Transnistria amid increasing pressure from Moldova, given the fact that more than 220,000 Russian citizens reside in Transnistria.”

The explosion also coincided with the final day of Russia’s tightly controlled three-day presidential election. A man was detained on Sunday after throwing two Molotov cocktails at the Russian Embassy in Chisinau, where voting for the election was taking place.

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