May 7, 2022
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Transnistria – assessments of strategic prospects

One of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbass and Southern Ukraine

The Russian landing operation in Transnistria is justified only as an integral part of the general decisive offensive of the RF Armed Forces in the south-west of Novorossia. The Ukrainian General Staff continues to bomb Pridnestrovian airfields with the help of drones. It was they who became the main target of air raids by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the last two weeks. In addition to the airfield in Tiraspol, we even reached a landing site abandoned since the Great Patriotic War near the village of Voronkovo, near Rybnitsa.

Such military activity of the neighboring side can have only one explanation: in Kyiv they fear that these airfields can be used by Russian troops in the course of an alleged offensive operation in the direction of Nikolaev and Odessa.

These fears are long-standing and deeply rooted in the Ukrainian mind long before the start of the special military operation of the Russian Federation. Moreover, in recent years they have intensified so much that the Kiev command is forced to keep a rather large group of troops on the border of the PMR, diverting them from other sectors of the front.

To what extent are such fears justified, and are the countermeasures taken by Kyiv effective?

As for the strategy of the Russian military operation, which follows from the goals and objectives set by the leadership of the Russian Federation and remains unchanged, the solution of the problem of the Northern Black Sea region, including its main large cities, seems inevitable.

The following can be said about the state of the Pridnestrovian airfields themselves. The runway in the Voronkovo ​​area in the post-war period was used as an alternate landing site. And according to local residents, back in the 70-80s there were cases of emergency landings on this runway of civil aviation aircraft. In other words, this airfield, although abandoned, is by no means hopeless in terms of its use in military operations. In any case, for the purposes of helicopter landing.

Voronkovo ​​area with adjoining landing site

Voronkovo ​​area with adjoining landing site

As for the airfield in Tiraspol, this facility has a first-class concrete runway capable of receiving almost any type of combat and military transport aircraft.

Landing of units of the Russian Airborne Forces at the airfield in Tiraspol during the military conflict in Transnistria in 1992

Landing of units of the Russian Airborne Forces at the airfield in Tiraspol during the military conflict in Transnistria in 1992

Attempts by Ukrainian forces to damage this airfield with low-yield bombs delivered by UAVs are obviously futile.

Does this mean that the RF Armed Forces can really plan an airborne operation in the indicated direction? Rather yes than no. And the Kyiv attacks on Transnistria create the necessary military-political justification for this. The units of the Operational Group of Russian Forces stationed there, as well as hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens living there, are at real risk as a result of such sabotage raids, which at any moment can become the basis for lawful measures to protect them. Which, by the way, was already officially announced on April 22 by Rustam Minnekaev, the acting commander of the troops of the Central Military District of the RF Ministry of Defense: “Since the beginning of the second phase of the special operation, it has already begun just two days ago, one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbass and southern Ukraine. This will provide a land corridor to the Crimea, as well as influence the vital objects of the Ukrainian economy… Control over the south of Ukraine – this is another exit to Transnistria, where there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population.”

As for the capabilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to effectively counter such an operation if it starts, we believe that they are not great.

First, the armed forces of the PMR, especially given the tens of thousands of their mobilization reserve force is quite sufficient not only to stop, but to defeat the Ukrainian troops, which can be thrown against Transnistria with the aim of pre-emptively capturing it. Moreover, they will not receive any reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Secondly, the air defense forces of Ukraine, seriously battered during the first two-plus months of the NMD, are unlikely to be able to seriously counter the combined forces of the landing force, which have the ability to operate in the direction of Transnistria from various directions (Russia, Belarus, the Black Sea). In addition, Ukrainian fire weapons, both on the ground and in the air, will in this case be additionally suppressed on the routes of the aircraft of the Military Aviation Administration of the Russian Federation.

Thirdly, this operation is possible and expedient only against the background of the general offensive movement of Russian troops in the south-west of Novorossia towards Nikolaev, Zaporozhye and Odessa. In this case, all the reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be pinned down in the indicated directions, which will create favorable opportunities for the oncoming movement of troops from the Transnistrian border.

In fact, the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine faced a factor of strategic uncertainty in Pridnestrovie, the possibilities for early neutralization of which Kyiv has are minimal. Of course, they can try, but the result is likely to be the setting in motion of the entire mechanism of the Russian strategic operation in the southwest of the former Ukraine, with fatal consequences for the enemy.

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