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Drone attack in Transnistria is attempt by Russia to destabilize situation in Moldova, - ISW

Drone attack in Transnistria is attempt by Russia to destabilize situation in Moldova, - ISW Photo: UAV attack on a helicopter in Transnistria - the Russian Federation's attempt to destabilize the situation (Getty Images)

On Sunday, March 17, an unidentified drone was reported to have flown over a military unit in Transnistria. Ukraine is not involved in this attack, and the incident is an attempt by Russia to destabilize the situation in the Republic of Moldova, according to a report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The report reminded that on March 17, unidentified individuals launched a drone at a military base in the territory of the Transnitrian Moldavian Republic. Media outlets of the separatist republic reported that one drone shot down a helicopter on the territory of an unspecified military unit in Transnistria, published a video of the drone strike, and claimed that the drone flew from the direction of the Odesa region.

Former Chairman of the Supreme Council of Transnistria, Alexander Shcherba, stated that the strike has "a Ukrainian trace" and that "the main beneficiary" is Ukraine. The Moldovan Bureau of Reintegration stated that the downed helicopter had not flown for years and that the strike was deliberately aimed at spreading fear and panic in Transnistria, thus being part of an enemy information operation aimed at Moldova, although the Bureau of Reintegration did not directly accuse Transnistrian or pro-Russian forces of carrying out this strike.

"Neither Transnistrian nor Russian authorities have accused Ukrainian forces of conducting the strike as of this writing but may do so in the future," the ISW report states.

The Institute for the Study of War also reminded that the Moldovan government is in contact with the Ukrainian government. The Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation blamed Russia for conducting the strike to manipulate the information space. Andriy Yurash, the spokesperson for the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine, called the situation a Russian provocation.

"ISW cannot independently verify the details of the singular drone strike in Transnistria or identify the responsible actors, but it is unlikely that Ukrainian forces conducted the strike given the limited means used in the strike and the insignificant target. Ukrainian officials have also recently stated that Transnistria does not pose a military threat to Ukraine," the report states.

Additionally, the Institute for the Study of War reported that the Transnistrian authorities recently appealed to Russia for unspecified "defense" against Moldova. Russia or its affiliates are likely to benefit from this provocation to further Kremlin's ongoing efforts to create informational conditions justifying various Russian hybrid operations aimed at destabilizing Moldova, as warned by ISW multiple times.

Situation in Transnistria

On Sunday, March 17, in the unrecognized Transnistria, an unknown drone targeted a military helicopter. However, the Moldovan authorities stated that there was no attack, and the reports of it are an attempt to instill fear and panic.

Earlier, it was reported that Russia printed ballots for "presidential elections" in Transnistria. In response, Moldova summoned the Russian ambassador for an explanation.