Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova are preparing for a military operation against Transnistria and an “armada” of tanks stationed in Romania will come to help, writes the Russian publication politnavigator, citing statements made by so-called Russian experts. Just three days after the false narrative was published in the press, it was officially resumed , in a slightly modified form, by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
NEWS: The Ukrainian army is preparing to attack Transnistria. Since the beginning of the year, experienced troops of the Ukrainian Army have been massed [at the border with the Republic of Moldova/Transnistrian region], and exercises and coordination actions are taking place. The target of the future attack is the Cobasna ammunition depot, which during the Soviet period was the strategic arsenal of the Western Military District.
[...] “They are ready for it, at any moment. They have planned everything, they have even brought special equipment from Bakhmut and Donetsk. The only thing they fear is that the arsenal might be mined. If it explodes, it could destroy blocks of flats in Chisinau, like in Turkey, but it is also likely that they would try and blame the Russians. Ammunition for a year of war is stored there”, Vladimir Grubnik wrote, citing several sources.
He makes the connection between the aggressive plans of the Ukrainian army and the change of Government in Chisinau, where the “civilian” Natalia Gavrilița was replaced by the representative of the law enforcement agencies, Dorin Recean. A sign that preparations for an aggression are underway is the fact that army commissariats have been sending summonses to all men fit for military service, claiming it’s just for “updating the database”.
The latest statements made by the newly appointed Prime Minister Recean support this version. He said that it is necessary to demilitarize Transnistria, and drive away the Russian troops. The statements came in unison with those of Volodymyr Zelensky, who told Corriere dela Serra that Ukraine is ready to help Moldova.
Military expert Alexandr Artamonov assumed back in January that the attack on Transnistria, which in the west is considered part of Moldova, could also be launched from Romania. Tanks prepared for Ukraine can be used. In this case, the conquest of Transnistria will be just a secondary goal, and the main one will be the fortification of the area around Odesa and the continuation of the attack towards Crimea.
“An armada of approximately 150-200 tanks will mass on the border of Romania and descend towards Odesa, crushing Transnistria on its way.”
[...] His colleague Vladislav Shurigin [...] claims that the newest armament of the Western Military District of the USSR was evacuated from Cobasna or used during the time of the 14th Army general Alexandr Lebedi. “What's left cannot be used. I think they could use some projectiles, but they are over 40 years old. That's why it would be a suicidal action”, Shurigin believes.
NARRATIVES: 1. Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova a preparing to attack Transnistria, ruled by a pro-Russian regime, in order to take control of the ammunition depot in Cobasna. 2. NATO will get involved in the war on the side of Ukraine.
Narratives regarding an attack on Transnistria, a constant in the Russian propaganda
LOCAL CONTEXT/ETHOS: Pro-Kremlin Russian media have been writing for years about alleged plans to attack Transnistria. Veridica has regularly debunked fake news and disinformation on the topic since before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russian propaganda can't seem to decide where the danger to Transnistria comes from, so it has written, among other things, that the 2022 attacks in Transnistira were staged by the West to bring Moldova into NATO and capture Soviet-era ammunition , that the US is preparing to attack Transnistria, that Maia Sandu and Zelensky have agreed to attack Transnistria, that in fact special US, Romanian and Moldovan troops are preparing to attack Transnistria , or that Romania, alongside Poland, Ukraine and Moldova, is getting ready to invade Transnistria.
In a style Moscow has long used us to, after the false narratives regarding the attack on Transnistria were promoted in the pro-Kremlin media, they were also picked up at the official level, and the Russian Ministry of Defense officially stated on February 23rd that Ukraine was allegedly preparing to invade Transnistria.
The separatist Transnistrian region is a relic of the war against the government in Chisinau instigated in 1992 by Russia, which also directly participated in it. The region survives as an independent entity thanks to the funding and protection of Moscow, which has two military contingents stationed there: one as a peacekeeping force, the second to guard an ammunition depot that used to belong to the former 14th Soviet Army, a participant in the 1991 conflict. Russia has not fulfilled its international commitments to withdraw its troops and ammunition. Currently, all the steps taken by Chisinau regarding the withdrawal of its armed forces from the territory of the Republic of Moldova are commented by Moscow and Tiraspol as an attempt to destroy the peace-keeping mission, although they are different things.
Against the background of statements about potential attacks on the separatist region, the Russian propaganda also invokes the risk of Romania's involvement, and some media sources have put forth the idea that Romania intends to annex the entire territory of the Republic of Moldova, but also parts of Ukraine.
Thus, Romania is presented as a vindictive start, with territorial claims on the Republic of Moldova and some regions in the south-east of Ukraine. Reference is made to the fact that Romania lost these territories in the Second World War, but it is not said that, in fact, they were seized by the USSR after it signed the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact with Nazi Germany.
PURPOSE: 1. To substantiate claims and accusations made by Kremlin leaders that Ukraine is run by a neo-Nazi regime that poses a danger to Russia and Russians. 2. To confirm Moscow's official claims about NATO's involvement in the war in Ukraine. 3. To induce panic among the residents of Transnistria about a potential military attack on the region and present Russia as a “lifeline”.
Why Russia is lying: Ukrainian forces are massed in the east, and NATO has ruled out any involvement in the conflict
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: It is true that some Ukrainian officials have suggested on several occasions that Ukraine would be ready to liberate the Transnistrian region from the control of the pro-Russian regime and Russian military forces, but the authorities in Chisinau have ruled out each time this scenario and reiterated that they are only looking into peaceful resolutions to the conflict.
The claim that Ukraine has concentrated major professional troops on the border with the Transnistrian region, while its army is concentrated in the west of the country to repel Russian attacks, is also questionable.
The Chisinau authorities have repeatedly rejected claims carried by regular or social media about alleged mobilizations or summoning orders issued by army commissariats. The latest disinformation campaign of this kind emerged recently, and the Ministry of Defense has urged citizens “not to fall prey to disinformation and manipulation”. .
A possible government reshuffle in Chisinau had been talked about for the last half year, so the appointment of Dorin Recean, former Minister of the Interior, as head of Government has nothing to do with Kyiv’s alleged plans to attack Transnistria. In fact, the Government’s activity program examines only peaceful solutions to the conflict. Information on the degree of wear and tear of the ammunition stored in the Cobasna depot cannot be verified. It is still certain, though, that if it were to explode, according to specialists' estimates it would affect towns in both the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine
The Republic of Moldova rejected as fake the statements made by Moscow on February 23rd, regarding an Ukrainian invasion in Transnistria.
As for NATO's alleged intentions to get involved in the war in Ukraine, this is again one of the basic narratives of Russian propaganda, a narrative that is spread by both the pro-Kremlin media and the top Russian officials, who have repeatedly said that NATO prepared the war, threatened Russia directly, and is fighting it using Ukrainians as cannon fodder, etc.
NATO’s support for Ukraine, however, is offered only to help that country resist an unprovoked imperialist aggression, with Russia seeking to bring an independent state under its control. NATO officials categorically ruled out any involvement in a war against Russia (unless Russia attacked a NATO state) and took steps to avoid provoking Moscow: the NATO forces in the east operated strictly within the territory and the airspace of the member countries, the deliveries of offensive weapons to Ukraine were refused, so that this country would not use NATO weapons to strike the territory of Russia.
Due to the Russian aggression in the region, NATO has been forced to strengthen its own positions on the eastern border, including in Romania, to ensure the protection of the member states. However, there was no question of concentrating forces capable of launching large-scale offensive operations, nor of deploying an “armada” of tanks.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: Some Ukrainian officials have suggested on several occasions that Ukraine would be ready to liberate the Transnistrian region from the control of the pro-Russian regime and Russian military forces, but the authorities in Chisinau have ruled out this scenario each time and reiterated that it they are only looking into peaceful resolutions to the conflict.