Russian Actions in Transnistria
Tactical Rabbit - National Security
Russia’s recent attacks in Transnistria are likely an attempt to establish a pretext for future Russian occupation of the area. Russia will likely attempt to move its forces in Ukraine south east towards Odessa in the upcoming weeks. If Russia is successful in isolating Odessa, the likelihood increases that Russia will move into Transnistria effectively cutting off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea. This will likely increase the amount of displaced civilians seeking to flee into Moldova.
Impact to civilian evacuation:
If Russia continues to move it’s forces towards Transinistria civilian access to Moldova will become increasingly restricted. TR assesses that if Russia continues at it’s current pace civilians in Odessa and south eastern Ukraine likely have less than a month to leave the area before the situation becomes critical. However, this assessment is based on Russian performance so far in the Ukrainian invasion, as surface conditions improve across Ukraine this timeline may be accelerated.
Transnistria an autonomous province located in Moldova along the Ukraine border experienced a likely Russian sponsored attack on 25 April 221. This attack targeted radio towers in Mayak, the
state security office in Tirspol, and a military installation near Parcani in the vicinity of Mayak. Some analysts believe that this is an indicator that Russia intends to spread the current conflict into Transnistria. This assessment is based in part on the apparent shift in Russian focus to controlling the eastern portion of Ukraine2.
The Russian Federation has a history of using the pretext of liberating oppressed Russian cohorts outside of Russia for conducting military operations. This pretext was used in the 2014 annexation of Crimea, the 2008 Georgian conflict, and most recently the current conflict with Ukraine.
Since the early 1990’s Russia has maintained a garrison of approximately 1,500 military personnel in Transnistria, the exact number of Russian military personnel is not known at this time. Currently the Russian forces in Transistria are assessed as the 59th Guards Motor Rifle Division(MRD) and the 1162 Anti-Aircraft Rocket Regiment3. The 59th MRD is a light infantry division and TR assesses that the Division would likely be unsuccessful in any attempts to attack into the south eastern portion of Ukraine if not reinforced. The 1162 Anti-Aircraft Regiment may pose a significant threat to Air movement along the Ukraine/Moldova border.
The 1162nd Anti-Aircraft Rocket Regiment located in Tiraspol is assessed as having 6 PU-12 and 3 P-145BM systems it is unclear at this time if these systems are operable. The PU-12 is a Air Defense command vehicle based on the BTR-60 chassis. The P-145BM is an upgraded version of
the PU-12 also based on the BTR-50 chassis. Both command and control vehicles are designed to integrate into the Russian Integrated Air Defense system and may control most Russian based air- defense weapon systems4.
According to The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) Russia may have also moved the 540th Signal Brigade, 113 Mechanized Infantry Brigade and the 82 mechanized infantry brigade into Transistia as well. If true this would slightly increase Russia’s combat power in the region. TR assesses that this reinforcement would not be large enough for an offensive operation into Ukraine, but may be there in an effort to establish a forward operation location for future Russian actions. Alternatively these units may block any civilians attempting to leave southern Ukraine trough Moldova.