The American Institute for War Studies (ISW) conducts an analysis of the meaning of the latest events in Transnistria in its daily report on the conflict in Ukraine. Several military targets connected to Russia (communications antennas and the KGB headquarters – the secret service in the separatist region) have been attacked in the past 48 hours, and Chisinau authorities have said that Transnistrian war-torn forces are responsible for these events. At the same time, according to the Moldovan press and the Ukrainian authorities, the inhabitants of the separatist region are being bombarded with SMS messages warning that Ukraine will attack Transnistria with missiles.
ISW points out that Russia is organizing these attacks “under a false flag” in order to give the impression that Ukraine is carrying out acts of sabotage on the separatist territory of the Republic of Moldova and to create conditions for further action on this front.
“The two battalions of troops that Russia has illegally maintained in Transnistria since the end of the Cold War are probably not enough to stage a credible attack on Odessa alone, and the Russians will not be able to strengthen them enough to allow such an action. It could instead support more limited attacks in northwestern Odessa, possibly causing panic and creating psychological effects for the benefit of Russian operations in southern Ukraine.
However, Russia could try to destabilize Moldova itself. The comments of the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic and other Russian officials suggest that Putin may recognize the existence and sovereignty of the self-proclaimed Transnistrian Moldovan Republic, as it recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. Transnistria could then demand additional protection from Russia, and Putin could try to send some additional forces or capabilities there. Any such activities would greatly raise tensions in Moldova and neighboring Romania, putting additional pressure on NATO, possibly to give Putin a cheap profit and distract attention from Russia’s action in eastern Ukraine, “ISW said.
The prestigious American institute also shows that there are reports and indications that Russian forces intend to hold referendums to establish “independent people’s republics” in the occupied areas of southern Ukraine, as part of the celebration of Victory Day (May 9). It shows that the false flag attacks and the reactions of these Russian intermediaries are alarming, and NATO and the West must consider and prepare for “their most dangerous means of action.”