Analysis of the News “Russian army: Ukraine is preparing for an invasion of Transnistria”

February 2023

As part of the Regional Initiative in Combating Disinformation “Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: Exposing Malign Influences through Watchdog Journalism”, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.

Russian army: Ukraine is preparing for an invasion of Transnistria

Russian media agency Sputnik in Serbian language conveys the news that Ukraine is preparing for an invasion of Transnistria.

“The Kyiv regime has intensified preparations for the invasion of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. As previously announced, this action by the armed forces of Ukraine will be carried out in response to the alleged offensive of Russian troops from the territory of Transnistria,” the Ministry of Defense of Russia states in the announcement.

It is added that “the implementation of the planned provocation by the Ukrainian authorities represents a direct threat to the Russian peacekeeping contingent that is legally present in Transnistria. The armed forces of the Russian Federation will respond adequately to the upcoming provocation by the Ukrainian side.”

The Transnistrian region is currently beyond the control of the authorities of the Republic of Moldova. In this region there is a contingent of the Russian army called the Operational Group of Russian Forces. It is residual group of the former armed forces of the USSR stationed in Moldova, which were supposed to leave this country after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the signing of the final document of the OSCE summit in Istanbul in 1999. However, Russia, although it pledged to withdraw ammunition and troops by 2002, has not done so to date.

This “plan” of Ukraine was also reported by other Serbian media, such as the tabloid The mentioned tabloid reports the statement of the president of the “We are together with Russia” movement, Vladimir Rogov, in which he states that the Ukrainian authorities have ordered the transfer of troops closer to Transnistria and that, “with a high degree of probability, it can be said that Zelensky is preparing to attack Transnistria.”

However, the Moldovan authorities denied this claim by the Ministry of Defense of Russia and called on citizens to remain calm and to obtain information from official and verified sources.

One of the ways of destabilizing the region that Russia uses is to falsely accuse the opponent of “provocations” that never happened or that will be carried out later by Russia or its allies.

The President of the Republic of Moldova, Maja Sandu, stated on February 13 that the authorities have confirmed the alleged Russian intention to destabilize Moldova, which was previously warned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr. Zelenskiy told EU leaders that Ukraine had intercepted a plan from Russian intelligence, having uncovered a document that showed “who, when and how was going to break the democracy of Moldova and establish control” over the country.

The plan involved citizens of Russia, Montenegro, Belarus and Serbia entering Moldova to try to spark protests in an attempt to change the legitimate government to an illegal government controlled by the Russian Federation. “The purpose of these actions is to overturn the constitutional order, to change the legitimate power from Chișinău to an illegitimate one that would put our country at Russia’s disposal to stop the European integration process, but also so that Moldova can be used by Russia in its war against Ukraine.”

Also, on February 21, in an interview with Moldovan television channel TV8, Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Rechan confirmed that the authorities are aware of “several” potential Russian destabilization scenarios. “We have strengthened our capabilities and are prepared for various scenarios aimed at the security of the Republic of Moldova”, said Rechan.

Author: Tanja Plavšić