Espreso. Global

Russia's potential second front in Europe raises concerns, says Belgian Army Chief

19 December, 2023 Tuesday
17:12

Michel Hofman, the commander-in-chief of the Belgian army, warns of the possibility that Russia might open a second front by targeting Moldova or the Baltic states in the future

Hofman shared this concern during an interview with VRT.

"We see that Russia has switched to a war economy. I think we would be right to be worried. The language used by the Kremlin and by President Vladimir Putin is always ambiguous. It is by no means out of the question that they might open a second front at some time in the future. Either in the south, in Moldova or the Baltic States," he said. 

He pointed out that part of Moldova's territory (Transnistria) has long been occupied by Russians. 

Hofman also expressed his belief that the Russian Federation's current temporary weakness due to the war in Ukraine will be followed by a resurgence of its war machine.

"Russia will eventually regenerate its war machine and rebuild its armed forces," Admiral Hofman said."

"They have already shown that they have the will to attack a neighbor. We have to see that we have the capacity to prevent this happening again and show the will that we are prepared to counterattack if necessary."

The situation in occupied Transnistria

In the early 1990s, many Moldovan political leaders favored joining Moldova and Romania into one country. However, Transnistrians opposed this and, in 1992, declared a section along the Dniester River as the "Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic." Russian Federation peacekeeping troops are stationed in this region.

In May, Moldova's President, Maia Sandu, suggested that EU membership could safeguard Moldova from potential Russian actions. She hoped negotiations would start soon and mentioned Moldova joining the EU by 2030, even considering Transnistria's inclusion, despite Russian troops in the area.

By June 1, EU High Representative Josep Borrell stated that the Transnistrian conflict wouldn't hinder Moldova's EU accession, citing similar precedents. In August, Sandu mentioned that Ukraine's success against Russia could aid a peaceful resolution of the Transnistrian issue.

On October 26, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged Russia to withdraw its troops from the occupied Transnistrian region, recognized as Moldova's territory.
 

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