Ukraine War Day #369: Transnistria the next front? [concluded]

Dear Readers:

Thanks for great discussion, in comment section, about this new worrisome crisis. Before finishing my review of Grishin’s piece, I also have this piece from yesterday. RIA reports that Ukrainians troops are observed accumulating ever more on the Transnistria border. Vladimir Rogov, who runs the administration in the Russian segment of Zaporozhie Oblast, is keeping his eye on the situation. Rogov: “According to operative information that is coming in, the Zelensky regime has given the order to move troops to the Transnistria border. We may say, with a high degree of probability, that Zelensky is preparing to attack Transnistria.”

Now, we must keep in mind that Rogov has an axe to grind: He is convinced that the Russian army must expand its Special Operation all the way to Odessa. Which is the only way to prevent the Ukrainians from seizing Transnistria. A glance at the map will show that Rogov is correct.

The flag of Transnistria

As background information, the RIA editors point out that 60% of the civilian inhabitants of Transnistria are ethnic Russians and Ukrainians. Slavs, in other words, as opposed to the other 40% who, I imagine, would mainly be Romanians. There used to be a vital Jewish community in that region, but the Romanians killed them all off (in the most brutal manner possible) in WWII, even before the Nazis arrived to bless their project.

Even before the final break-up of the USSR, the Slavic population of this area did their own Separatist thing and split away from Moldavia. They could see the writing on the wall, they were rightfully afraid of Romanian Nationalists, and they were very worried that Moldavia would be absorbed into Romania. In which case, there would have surely been a bloodbath. At the time it was said (and I don’t know if this is still true, because a lot of civilians have left the area) that Transnistria was the most Soviet of all the Soviet Republics. Even more so than the Donbass. People still keep, and revere, the old Soviet symbols and way of life.

In 1992 the Moldavian government attempted to solve its “Separatist” problem using force, but were unable to take back Transnistria. Which has existed, all these past 30 years as a quasi-independent entity, loyal only to Russia. The garrison of Russian troops which remain there are the heirs of the 14th [Soviet] army, which put itself under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. Their main job, as we have seen, is to guard the hoard of weapons.

What Can Russia Do?

With that additional background under our belts, we return to Grishin’s analysis. We saw that he had listed our some rather good reasons why the Ukrainians, from their point of view, should seize Transnistria: (1) They seize the cache, and maybe some of the shells still work; (2) They capture the Russian garrison as POWs; (3) They leverage Moldavia to request assistance from Romania, which, in turns, draws NATO directly in the conflict.

It’s actually a great plan and it might just work, is there anything that Russia can do to thwart this? [aside from calling in the Scooby Gang].

Giant Lenin urges Transnistrians to stand firm.

Grishin: The village of Kolbasna stands right next to the giant arms cache. It is located in the northern part of Transnistria, in the Rybnitsky Region. The Ukrainian border is nearby: Just one kilometer to the North, and a kilometer and a half to the East. This distance is nothing, were the Ukrainians to launch a sudden and massive attack. All the more so, as this particular area is flat, and there are no natural barriers to the East. There is a natural barrier to the West, namely the Dniester River itself. The Dniester is the natural border between Transnistria and Moldavia proper.

Estimates of the number of Russian troops, varies. From 2,000 to 5,000 bayonets. Probably closer to the former. But add to them something like 15,000 Transnistrian soldiers, in the Transnistrian army itself. [yalensis: I didn’t know that, I thought there was only the Russian garrison!] People also say that, in the event of an attack, the Transnistrian army can very quickly balloon up to 80,000 men. But this assertion has never had to be actually tested before, thank God, because it was never an issue. Also take into account that Transnistrian military strategy and training has always been focused on the threat from the West, from Moldavia. It did not take into account an incursion from the East, from Ukraine.

Russia can respond to an attack using its economic leverage. For example, it could completely shut off the pipeline that still carries gas across Ukraine to Europe. It can block all ships that are in the Black Sea, as part of the grain deal. But those measures would take days, if not weeks, to implement. Whereas the fate of Transnistria could be decided in just a couple of hours.

A maritime or airborne landing [of Russian troops] is not possible. The planes will be shot down, the ships will be sunk. Given this, Russia has only one variant: rocket strikes. And not just precision “Kalibr” strikes, something more weighty is needed. While at the same time trying to carve that corridor to Odessa. Which would also take time, and is fraught with risk of numerous losses.

In conclusion, the best variant is to issue an ultimatum to Kiev: In the case of aggression, to punish with precision strikes and “wipe off the face of the planet” the decision-making centers in Kiev. The administrative offices and government buildings, the entire block on Bankovaya Street, the Ministry of Defense, the SBU HQ on Vladimirskaya Street (where, by the way, the CIA Residentura resides), and so on.

Well, we shall just have to see what happens.

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20 Responses to Ukraine War Day #369: Transnistria the next front? [concluded]

  1. Ortensio says:

    Rusia necesita una revolución ( en sentido de reforma drástica ) de las estructuras economicas, sí . Pero mas aun una reforma radical de las obediencias a las que se encuentra sometida .

    Es increible que una patria con tantos recursos naturales y humanos este sometida a sus propios complejos , lo cual favorece la arrogancia y la burla practicada ( y con el de sus vasallos ), practicada por el ultimo Imperio .

    No existio en la Historia alguna patria que tuviera tanta simpatía en el exterior como sucedio entonces con la URSS o, actualmente la Federación Rusa .
    Pero ya no me ocupa la URSS . Lo que si es lamentable es que Rusia no entiende algo de lo que significa simpatía de otros pueblos y patrias hacia ella .
    Abandonó a Serbia, a la Republica Democratica de Alemania, a Libia, a Irán, a Bielorrusia ( al principio de la revolucion de color ), a Yemen .

    Tiene en Europa Occidental de cinco a quince millones de simpatizantes hacia ella .
    Tiene en todo el mundo de quinientos a tres mil millones de simpatizantes hacia ella .
    Y sin embargo, tiene unas exigencias para lograr siquiera la residencia, impropias de una patria tan inmensa .

    No . Si Rusia es destruida no sucederá por interesados en lograr su residencia o nacionalidad . No será destruida, ni siquiera por los misiles OTAN . Rusia no perderá la guerra desde el exterior . Será , si sucede, por su division interna y sus varias quinta, sexta, septima …. etc….. columnas .

    No es extraño que personas nativas que aman a Rusia, se averguenzan por ella . Porque el amor terrenal no es infinito y tiene sus exigencias de justicia, al mismo tiempo .

    Rusia, o mejor su administración, pero ¿ cuando y cuanta es la diferencia ? , se muestra arrogante ante los humildes ( vease el caso de los anciones humillados en la fase COVID 2020 ), y se muestra servil, mas que humilde, ante los arrogantes .

    Si Rusia no quiere perecer ya mismo, tendrá que ser, en caso de invasión, contundente en Kiev, en Moldavia y enTrasnistria .


  2. the pair says:

    not sure what the strategy would for an attack from the [non-NATO] moldova side but the whole of ukraine is obviously “in play” and i’m not sure there is enough air defense on the ukie side to deal with su-25s flying past odessa to the border. the russians have gotten pretty adept with drones as well and those are great for reducing casualties on their side.

    pressure on romania and arming the transnistrians might be options but i’m not familiar with their demographics (age/sex wise at least). it’s too bad there doesn’t seem to be a way to simply get the weapons out (or better weapons in) and remove that incentive. i also have to wonder how much pull the actual moldovan public has on the issue given the corruption that has pretty much defined their political structure for decades.


  3. S Brennan says:

    While I do not think there can be a peace that holds without Odessa* being returned to Russia. And while I did caution that the Russian Military thought “we will proceed on our timetable” is risky and has historically been the undoing of many a good army.

    Here I note; One of the things that shortened WW II was, the US & Soviet practice of killing as many soldiers in retreat as possible…don’t let the [deleted word here] dig in, overrun their supply lines, bottle them up and let nature take it’s course. But as Andrei has pointed out, I am not an expert, definitely not an academy trained flag officer, just an average joe with an interest in developing a non-dystopian world for those that come after me.

    That said, without a Russian winter advance, the fate of Transnistria lies largely in own hands, if they accept surrender, past being prologue, their fate may be worse than if they fight. Ukrainia’s forces could occupy and force the Russ to destroy Transnistria to oust them…and they, ever ready to turn tail for the sanctuary in Moldova. And that last detail is what make this move, from Ukrainia’s perspective, low risk, high reward if…the destruction of civilian centers and killing the maximum number of civilians is your idea of “high reward”. And clearly, the consensus of DC & London’s elite is, if we can’t steal it from you, we will destroy it with the rage of a child deprived of a toy.

    *[and sufficiently broad swathes of land surrounding Odessa to preclude the shelling of civilians so popular with the “Kool-kids” of DC & London]


  4. “In the case of aggression, to punish with precision strikes and “wipe off the face of the planet” the decision-making centers in Kiev.”

    Putin failed to do this while threatening to already (in case Russian territory was attacked). Why should anyone believe the threat now?


    • James K says:

      So then how long do you think Russia will be able to last in this SMO given all that “inaction” from Putin?


      • It will not be able to last 30 months as is projected according to Douglas McGregor. The cumulative losses will be more debilitating than those of a faster and more temporarily costly campaign. Of course Ukranazistan won’t last 30 months either, but NATOstan will find “mercenaries” (regular forces in Ukrainian uniform) enough to plug the gaps.

        At some point Russia will have to go on the offensive on a huge scale, and damn the profits of Russian oligarchs who still have investments in Ukranazistan.


        • James K says:

          “At some point Russia will have to go on the offensive on a huge scale, and damn the profits of Russian oligarchs who still have investments in Ukranazistan…”

          >> Or else — regime change?


          • yalensis says:

            I admit that I have been secretly wishing for a “really big Russian offensive” to put an end to this once and for all. But not if it’s going to be a nail-biter.

            Full disclosure: I am a very cautious person, and I worry about the risks. Seems like the “slow grind” approach is less risky, if it can give the same results, just taking longer. A really big offensive, committing everything, is like throwing the dice on the roulette wheel and screaming “Red!” I am no gambler, no, not I.

            On the other hand, something has to happen eventually, because there is the risk of NATO beefing up and going in, full steam, if the Russians wait too long. It’s a delicate balance, and I am glad I don’t have to make decisions like that. Can you imagine being the man who decides to go in full steam, and then loses? You would have to eat your own gun after such a miscalculation…


            • James K says:

              Sounds like an admission of Russia’s weakness to me — or more specifically, “relative to NATO”, that is. But hey, what do you expect relative to an empire that, unlike Russia, has already spent decades expanding with plenty of disposable colonies and populations under its belt? So no wonder Russia has to “play it slow and safe” !


          • Certainly the people who tried to sabotage Wagner recently are not very happy with Prigozhin getting famous and speculations on his running for the presidency.


    • yalensis says:

      Besides which, Zelensky always has the option of retreating to his secret bunker in advance, and just let the regular buildings go boom.


    • yalensis says:

      As Bullwinkle the Moose likes to say: “This time for sure!”


  5. Beluga says:

    I must confess I haven’t a clue what’s really going on out there on the battlefields of Ukraine. Been saying or at least thinking that for months. It’s near enough a news blackout. Somehow the Chechens took Mariupol last Spring and Summer without too much of a sweat while feeding the locals some nice looking field-oven baked fresh bread, but Wagner PMC has been farting around in much smaller Artemovsk for months. Well, srictly-speaking, Wagner hasn’t been farting around, but the Russian Armed Forces have been letting the privateers apparently do all the heavy lifting. And I’ve not even read how big the Wagner force is, but it isn’t half-a-million strong.

    Today I was subjected on our state TV to sobbing Ukies decrying having had to leave Mariupol back at the very start of the SMO. “Life was so perfect!” Our Western media showed Russian bulldozers demolishing Ukrainian state buildings in Mariupol recently — at least they also told us Russia is rebuilding the place, golly gee. But the sobbing Ukies shown are hanging out in Zaphorezhia, so my advice to them is to pack their belongings and hit the road. Mind you, at the current Russian pace of advance, they have several years to carefully pack their carpet bags, so no big rush.

    Russian drone movies of Artemovsk show a scene reminiscent of a Dresden neighbourhood after a RAF bomber raid in WW2. I mean, ArtieBakhmut isn’t exactly a huge metropolis, so what’s the real hold-up? Wagner might as well retreat all of a sudden unexpectedly a few klicks and let an actual Russian Forces massive TOS-1A thermobaric barrage incinerate the place and the Ukies contained therein. Save bringing in the really heavy bulldozers later.

    I mean, I’m more anti-imperialist Western government/oligarch/plutocrat rule than I am pro-Russia. Most people commenting here have way more skin in the Russian game than I do, and many are anti-Putin because he’s prevaricating about not having followed through and booting the Ukies out of the Donbass back in ’15 when they were on the run, and so people regard his current platitudes about not doing so as utter tripe. Could he really be that naive, and so on. You all could well be correct, I’m not well-informed enough to say one way or the other. And I don’t really care. Then was then and now is now.

    Seeing as Russian state bureaucracy is a ponderous sea-turtle flailing about on shore above the high tide line, and insists on crossing its metaphorical t’s and dotting its i’s, the next likely major screwup will be when “contracts” run out this summer for a lot of Russian regular soldiers. They’ll not re-up, but go home to a hero’s welcome, have a service gong pinned to their breasts by the local mayor, and then go off to uni, college, trade school on the taxpayer dime and get a gar-on-teed job afterwards, So there’ll be another mobilization crisis to get army soldier numbers back up to par. Of course, any new blokes will be sent to the Donbass after six months of training and getting free underwear and boots, and then spend time milling around and brewing tea in field kitchens, while Wagner’s lads do all the real work. I know I’m exaggerating and the front is 1600 klicks long, but it all seems undynamic to say the least. Kherson is being used for artillery target practice from the left bank of he Dnieper, etc. Perhaps in a decade, Russian city planners will build Kherson City back better as they are now doing in Mariupol.

    Transnistria? Those guys are on their own, and Russian troops deployed there have been on the job without relief for a year — no way in or out so far as I can ascertain, so no relief and no R & R. So let’s hope they have rigged the ammo hoard with booby traps, so that after the Ukies triumphally seize the enormous cache, they can be blown to kingdom come by remote control. Or something. Maybe the 101st airborne will have ‘coptered in from Romania wearing the latest RayBan Southern sheriff-style sun-goggles by then, and can experience the Big Bang as well.

    Surely it’s time for Russia to get off the toilet and get to real work at liberating the Donbass etc, while showing some minor signs of haste. At the moment, the war goons of the West seem pretty sure Russia has shot its bolt. All the theorizing and lecturing from Martyanov about glorious Russian military tactics, especially logistics — who pays attention to that dry as cardboard lecturing and hectoring shit now? It’s hollow rhetoric. So the Russians are keeping their troops fed and artillery supplied, well, big whoopee do. The never happening giant offensive has been rumoured since at least October, but hasn’t happened. Will it ever? What about those famed Russian web hackers? Why haven’t they screwed up Western bureaucracies’ online presence? The Kerch Strait bridge, Nordstream blow-up, the Moskva sinking, the retreat from Kherson, I mean what the hell is Russia capable of or defending from? Bugger all, so far as I can tell. Sure, they’ve offed all the Ukie armour and weapons twice and the double-pay boys of Wagner PMC have been hard at it, killing off Ukie human waves while apparently suffering pretty high losses themselves. And that’s about it. Ukie shells still fall in Donestsk and Lugansk. After a whole damn year!

    So what’s it to be? Sloth and languor, or some sign of getting on with the stated aims of the SMO? The Western propaganda establishment is having a field day with Russian restraint, and looks at Russia as a military paper tiger. And you can see why. Now they’re on to China-bashing for fun and profit. When China finally blows its stack at the stupid Americans, it’ll happen all of a sudden, and then there’ll be shit to pay all right. No farting around there, I’ll bet. So kiss yer ass goodbye if that happens. It’ll be fast and furious. Not like the Putin dipsy-doodle and skip-to-my-Lou barn dance. With home-grown ersatz Nutella and Croka Cola available in all supermarkets to try and show normality to the public. But the situation is hardly normal — it’s all effed up.


  6. tamas says:

    Italian writer Curzio Malaparte (mostly known outside Italy, I believe, for his Technique du coup d’etat) was in Moldavia during WWII, as an army officer and journalist. He witnessed the pogrom in Iasi (Jassy in his book, Kaputt) and also recalls how a group of Jewish girls was forced to serve three weeks in a German brothel, then shot at the end of their job. That chapter, The girls of Soroca, hit me hard when I read the book.
    It’s still horrible, but not incredible, how our Western nations basically sided with the heirs of those horrors


    • yalensis says:

      The ordinary civilian Jews of that region (Bessarabia is what it was called back then, I believe) suffered the most of any, in terms of brutality. It was said that the Romanians were even crueler than the Balts, which is saying quite a lot.


      • tamas says:

        Both Malaparte, who was there, and Romanian writer Norman Manea, back then a child who was lucky enough to be deported in a lager and survive the war, describe how some Romanian Jews were killed, quartered, and their corpses hanged in butchers’ shops in Bucarest. Not even the worst thing that happened to Romanian Jews


        • yalensis says:

          I read that some ordinary Romanians captured ordinary Jews (including women, children) and held them captive, raped them, tortured them for days before finally taking them out of their misery.
          The German Nazis were kind of horrified at what they saw, held their noses…

          I mean, genocide is one thing. If one believes that a certain group needs to be killed like vermin, that’s bad enough.
          But when people kill rats and other vermin, they don’t usually capture them and torture them, usually they just kill them as quickly as possible while holding their noses and averting their gaze.
          What the Romanian fascists did was something different, something uniquely evil.


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