BMA & Slavyangrad joint opinion piece
BMA wrote a joint text with the Slavyangrad Telegram channel. You can access it here.
It’ll be about the situation around Transnistria.
First of all, this is NOT an analysis, but only an opinion piece.
So, it is far less objective or well researched, then my other pieces.
And it will be shorter as well.
During the current war, we already had such a “crisis” that we are facing now. The Ukrainian army was preparing for an attack on Transnistria back in April/Mai 2022. When everyone was panicking how Russia should/could react, I have been writing, that nothing will happen. I was suggesting that it is a big diversion exercise, since Ukraine was on the backfoot in Donbass and needed to buy time for Western support. It turned out to be correct. Nothing happened.
Possible Ukrainian goals
So, what could be the current Ukrainian goals, by threatening Transnistria? I will point out some quick and not researched thoughts:
Ukraine is again on its backfoot in Donbass. As I lined out in my previous articles, I assume, that the collapse is only a matter of a few months. The only way to change the course, by prolonging the war and increasing the price for Russia (Western considerations) is to divert and trigger a reaction by Russia, which is not favourable to Russia.
Russia could be forced to divert resources, command and control and reconnaissance assets to the Transnistrian direction.
Russia would need to prepare men and material for an intervention, just in case. Even you know, that it is a pinning operation, like the Russians are pinning the Ukrainians along the Belorussian border, you need to divert resources. Just in case.
It could be a consideration, that Russia fastens up its operations in Donbass, to divert Ukrainian resources back to the Donbass, away from Transnistria. This in turn would further bleed Russia, since it would need to attack well prepared positions, instead of grinding them down by artillery.
Russia would need to commit strategic assets and elite quick reactions forces to Transnistria to guard its citizens and troops there. During the deployment huge casualties are to be expected. Since, these would need to be deployed by air. Maybe by HALO paradrops. Moreover, there is the risk, that such assets (yes people) could be taken prisoner.
You are missing the capturing of the strategic ammunition depot in Cobasna? Rightfully so. It would mean a strategic advantage for Ukraine. So, it will never fall in their hand. It would be blown up in advance, even though it means huge losses for everyone involved, since the explosion could be compared to a tactical nuke. I assume, that the West came to the same conclusion, so the purpose of the current build-up is not the ammunition depot, but diversion.
Russian forces in Transnistria
In Transnistria Russia has a peacekeeping force. And it is doing exactly that. Keeping the peace. By its presence. Similar to the American “tripwire” or “chicken” concept. It also basically defends the ammunition depot. But it should not fight large scale ground combat. Moreover, there is the potential for mobilization of the Transnistrian people, of which many are Russian citizens as well.
So, let’s put a realistic combat worthy human potential, including the regular Russian peacekeeping forces there on 10,000 men. It is neither a small nor a huge force. But considering the defensive nature, it certainly could slow down any Ukrainian offensive, for a time needed, to activate the necessary contingency plans.
I don’t have information about mobilization efforts there, but I did neither research it.
Let’s assume that there are really 10,000 armed Russian troops ready for defence. Reduce 2,000 for rear support activities. Then you have approximately some 40 troops for each kilometer of the line of contact between Ukraine and Transnistria. That is not very good. Since the attacker has the advantage of choosing where to attack and concentrate its offensive. Hence, intelligence is everything. As I stated before, it would mean, that Russia needs to divert its intelligence resources away from the actual combat to track, where Ukraine POTENTIALLY could attack.
This situation on its own is already a success for Ukraine. Maybe the mission is already accomplished by that.
Ukrainian offensive potential
I see two possible scenarios for this pinning operation.
Putting together two real brigades with well trained and equipped troops, that are assigned for offensive operations in Donbass. To make the threat look more credible.
Get together some territorial defence units and bring them to the Transnistrian border. This is actually more likely. Since I can’t see any escalation measures by Russia. Such troops would have a real hard time, breaking the Russian defences in Transnistria.
Numbers and units involved from the Ukrainian side? I want to be honest. I didn’t research it because I don’t want to waste my time on a diversion event. God help us if I am wrong 😊
Political circumstances and restrictions
Ukraine can only attack Transnistria if Moldova greenlights it. If Moldova greenlights it, it is a party of the conflict. From Russia’s point of view and from Russia’s international partners, as well. Guess who depends on Russia economically? Guess who has a huge percentage of pro-Russian citizens? Moldova. I don’t see a scenario where Moldova would greenlight that attack, and without Ukraine won’t do it. It would trigger serious consequences within the European allies. I’m sure, Germany wouldn’t want to see such developments as well as Germany wouldn’t want to see Poland enlarging its territory by annexing parts of Ukraine.
Hence, again, there is almost no way, that such an attack could really take place. The only thing that would be worth it, would be the access to the Russian ammunition depot in Cobasna. Since it is clear that it would be blown up, the only reasonable reason left, is the diversion.
Possible Russian reactions
Currently, we see almost NO serious reactions by Russia. At least overtly. I don’t know what is going on covertly. Yes, some hard political statements, but no real overt preparations.
I assume, that the Transnistrian territory has been well prepared for such an eventuality before the start of the SMO. It should be clear enough, that after starting the SMO, Transnistria would be a hotspot.
Hence, we can assume, that the troops there are somehow prepared to execute several kinds of contingency plans, which would essentially buy time for Russia to react.
In case, that I am wrong, and I don’t want to exclude that, I see only one realistic way to support the Transnistrian garrison. By letting the Russian paratroopers (Speznas) doing exactly what they are trained for. Drop behind enemy lines and secure the area until the main army arrives. Hence, we could see a HALO drop from the Black Sea combined with a massive SEAD campaign by the Russian Air Force.
To be clear, the Speznas has been used in this war for purposes, that are not their real purpose. Fighting battles that are designed for the regular army. Especially before the mobilization, because of men shortage. What I described above is ONE of their real purposes. But it is such a drastic measure, with a huge loss potential, that I simply can’t imagine such a thing happening. It would have such implications, that I don’t even want to write down here.
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I think in lot of your analysis you overvalue what the Germans want or does not want.
As a non German living in Germany I have seen first hand the level of servility to the US that this country is able to show.
People should not be mistaken for some strikes here or there, of course there is critics of the US but there are critics of the US even in the utmost Rusophobic UK. Moreover most of them are old.
Absolute majority, specially people younger than 50 years will simply accept everything. And their elites are not different.
If US decides that is strategically favorable that Ukraine attacks Transnistria, their agencies will say in the media that this attack it is liberating Traninistria from the terrible Russians.
Moreover Sandu will agree, and the Moldovan diaspora in the EU, that are highly fanaticise by NED and Open Societh will appear in all the media defending such operation.
If Moldovan people living in Moldova (that are really favourable to Russia protest) Sandu will ask for help of Romania pretending than civilians are Russians agitators.
So special forces of the army or the police from Romania will intervene in Moldova under the agreement of the Moldovan government and suppress any opposition.
The Moldovan people alone has no option against Moldovan government, Romanian forces and Ukrainian army.
The only option for them would be Russian support, but currently the Russians are far away and with no easy way.
And I repeat, you will have all the Moldovan diaspora in the news justifying this. All the youmy generations that use their Romanian passports to go and work in Germany will appear in the TV defending the operation.
Whatever feeling German elites may have they will have to shut up. The full operation will be portrait as a total success against Russia.
So I would not discard this option so quickly.
Thanks, this is so helpful. I read with great interest. As I noted on VOS, God will guide us. Goodby, to my pal, Andrei, VOS, so thankful you led me to this site.