U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Moldova pledging America's support to the small Western-leaning former Soviet republic that is coping with an influx of refugees from Ukraine and warily watching Russia's intensifying war with its neighbour.
Blinken was meeting on Sunday with senior Moldovan officials who are appealing for international assistance in dealing with more than 120,000 refugees from Ukraine that it is now hosting while also seeking security reassurances against potential Russian aggression. More than 230,000 people have fled into Moldova from Ukraine since the war began 11 days ago.
Blinken said Moldova's welcoming of refugees is an inspiration to the world.
“We admire the generosity of hospitality, the willingness to be such good friends to people who are in distress, and, indeed, I want to do everything we can to help you deal with the burden that this has imposed,” he said.
Russia already has troops in the country of 2.6 million that are stationed in the disputed territory of Transnistria and are being closely watched as Russian President Vladimir Putin presses ahead with the invasion of Ukraine. Although it has no plans to try to become a member of NATO, Moldova formally applied to join the European Union just three days ago in a fast-track bid to bolster its ties with the West.
London: British military officials on Sunday compared Russia's tactics in Ukraine to those used in Chechnya and Syria, where cities were bombarded and heavily damaged after Russian forces faced unexpected resistance from their defenders.
The strength of Ukrainian resistance continues to surprise Russian forces and they have responded by targeting populated areas, including the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol, Britain's Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence briefing.
“This is likely to represent an effort to break Ukrainian morale,” the ministry said in a statement. “Russia has used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016, employing both air and ground-based munitions.”
Russia's advance has been slowed by attacks on its supply lines, the ministry said. As a result, there is a “realistic possibility” that Russia is now trying to disguise fuel trucks to reduce losses.