Background

The OGRF is based in Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria) and are reported to number approximately 1500 personnel across four main locations (three in Tiraspol and one in Cobasna). OGRF responsibilities include ‘peacekeeping’ along the border with Moldova and securing the old Soviet ammunition storage facility in Cobasna which reportedly contains approximately 20 000+ tonnes of munitions.

The OGRF is a motorised infantry formation, and primary equipment includes BTR-70 and BRDM-2 in the two Separate Motor Rifle Battalions. There are also Command and Control (C2) units, supply and logistics support, dedicated troops for weapon storage, and an FSB Counter-Intelligence Unit which together constitute the OGRF. 

The Armed Forces of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic are a separate entity, although they have trained alongside the OGRF. Reportedly numbering between 10 and 15 000 personnel, it is centred around 4 Motor Rifle Brigades (in Tiraspol, Bendery, Dubossary, and Ribnita), as well as some special forces units. Equipped predominantly with ageing Soviet equipment, including up to 20 T-64BV Main Battle Tanks and an unknown number of BM-21 “Grad” Multiple Rocket Launchers, the combat readiness of the military is currently unknown. It is likely that the Transnistrian Army would obey direction from the Kremlin if compelled to do so, as Russia guarantees the security of the breakaway area of Moldova as well as supplying it with gas. Transnistria would however need to keep some forces to protect the border with Moldova, so it is a realistic possibility the maximum commitment would be 2 motor rifle brigades. 

The terrain on the Ukraine/Transnistria border in the south is marshy around Palanca with multiple tributaries and floodplains, restricting movement to the M-15 highway and minor roads. Further north, to the east of Tiraspol runs the Kuchurhan River which is crossed by the M-16 highway to Odessa. The river runs alongside the foothills and tributaries of the Podolian Upland.

Assessment

It is highly unlikely that Russia (and the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic) will invade Ukraine on a new axis from Transnistria. It is a realistic possibility that Russian forces will posture or conduct demonstrations within Transnistria in order to force the Ukrainian Armed Forces to keep a greater number of units close to Odessa and prevent them reinforcing operations further east. It is a realistic possibility that Russian intent to secure Odessa faded when their operations to take other major administrative centres (Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy etc) ceased. It is highly unlikely that there are sufficient forces available between the OGRF/Transnistrian Army, and amphibious forces in the Black Sea, to encircle and seize Odessa. Any serious attempt by Russia to seize Odessa would almost certainly need a sizeable land component from the east, which would need to seize Mykolaiv first, and is unlikely to occur concurrent to offensives in the Donbas. Odessa has had a significant amount of time to construct defences and fortifications, further increasing the risk to any Russian amphibious operation. 

Any independent attack from Transnistria into southern Ukraine would be severely restricted in its movement and canalised along key MSRs which would almost certainly be defendable by the UAF, regardless of Russian Air Force support or long-range strikes. 

The increased bombardment by precision guided weapons (reportedly both naval and air-launched) is likely to continue in the short term, targeting key infrastructure such as the oil depot struck on 3rd April. It is likely that the port and utilities will be further targeted. Increased targeting of infrastructure also indicates that the Russian Federation likely no longer has the intent to seize Odessa for economic or strategic reasons.