Russo-Ukrainian War 4/22/22

Transnistrian troops on October 26th, 2005, on a bridge near Tiraspol, capital of Transnistria (Image via WikiMedia)

Russia has announced a concrete war goal, with the stated intent of taking southern Ukraine and opening up a land bridge both to Crimea and the breakaway province of Transnistria, Moldova, where Russian troops have been stationed to deter NATO or EU ambitions.

Southern Ukraine, with potential Russian goals for occupation marked in red. Russian troops continue to advance near Kharkiv, and claims have been made by warlord Ramzan Kadyrov that Russia may attempt another offensive towards Kyiv.

Russian troops have been stationed in Transnistria supposedly as peacekeeping forces in light of the 1992 Transnistria war, but they are particularly responsible for guarding the Cobasna ammunition depot. A Soviet-era ammunition depot, the Russian troops in the region, maintain part of their garrison defending what amounts to the largest ammunition depot in Eastern Europe, with concerns that an accidental explosion could set off a catastrophe on the scale of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Moldova is only one of several pro-Western countries that Putin has been eyeing, particularly in the aftermath of a supposed victory over Ukraine. If Russia could achieve its new southern objectives, military or diplomatic regime-change in Moldova could be accomplished without severe loss, given Moldova’s serious lack of air defenses and Russia’s own attempts at fast-paced air operations in Ukraine.

Yet Russia’s southern objectives are quite lofty, particularly given their lack of control over Mariupol. Their inability to capture Azovstal sheds light upon a more significant concern; Odesa, whose catacombs are reportedly one of the largest in the world. Already they are being stocked with supplies. Even if a Russian assault managed to push past the city’s stalwart defenders, clearing the tunnels beneath the city would be a nightmare, short of chemical or nuclear weapons usage.

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