A huge ammunition depot in Transnistria and Kiev’s readiness to help Kishinyov. What is the connection?

The village itself is only 2.5 km from the border with Ukraine, which means that Kiev, which has a severe shortage of ammunition, cannot help but think about seizing the depot

In an interview with a German newspaper published on February 20, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky stated that Ukraine was ready to help Moldova with Transnistria. He accused the Russian leadership of wanting to overthrow the Moldovan leadership. The politician stressed that he was “ready to help Moldova if Russia opens a second front.” At the same time, Zelensky noted that Kishinyov itself had not asked for help.

This is not the first statement from the Ukrainian side about Transnistria. If we put aside the assumption that Kiev wants to help Kishinyov out of altruistic considerations, two factors remain. First, there is a Russian military contingent in Transnistria, and second, there is a large ammunition village in the village of Kolbasna.

Kiev hardly considers several thousand Russian peacekeepers as a serious military force, but the largest ammunition depot in Eastern Europe cannot but be of interest to Ukraine, especially against the background of the already officially recognized munition shortage.

The situation around the republic is constantly escalating and it came to the point that on February 23, the Russian Defense Ministry issued an official statement about an armed provocation against Transnistria that was being prepared. It noted that Kiev was planning to stage a staged invasion of Russian troops from the republic’s territory.

The ministry stressed its readiness to respond to any change in the situation.

Where did the depot come from?

In 1949, an artillery ammunition depot belonging to the 14th Soviet Guards Army was transferred from Odessa to the village of Kolbasna. After the withdrawal of Soviet troops from the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland, much of their ammunition was stored in Kolbasna.

By the time the Soviet Union disintegrated, about 40,000 tons of ammunition were stored in the warehouse.

Export of ammunition

In 1999 it was decided to start a gradual redeployment of ammunition to Russia. In the early 2000s, with the assistance of the OSCE Mission, Russia removed from Transnistria 500 pieces of military equipment and approximately 22,000 tons of ammunition from the depot in Kolbasna. Subsequently, the export of ammunition stopped.

In December 2019, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that 20,000 tons of ammunition remained in the depot. She noted that about 11,000 tons of them were about to expire and the Russian Defense Ministry was preparing a plan to eliminate them, but no further announcements were made.

In the mid-2000s, the Moldovan Academy of Sciences published an estimate of the damage if the Kolbasna depot exploded. The strength of the explosion would have been about 10 kilotons. The power of the nuclear explosion in Hiroshima was estimated at 13-18 kilotons.

In case of the depot’s explosion, a crater 75 meters deep with a radius of one and a half kilometers would be formed. At a distance of 50 kilometers a 7-7.5 magnitude earthquake would have occurred. All houses would have been destroyed. That is, more than a dozen villages in Transnistria and Ukraine would have disappeared.

Depot security

The 14th Army’s successor, the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF) is in charge of guarding the warehouse. It has about 1,700 servicemen. The group has no heavy armored vehicles, artillery or air defense equipment.

Since the depot is located on the territory of Transnistria, it is obvious that in case of an attack, the armed forces of the republic will join its defenders. Their number is about 7,500 people, which can hardly be considered a formidable force, especially considering the length of the common border with Ukraine of 400 km.

Transnistria has no access to the sea, and the republic is surrounded by Ukraine and Moldova, so in the event of an attack, Russia will not be able to quickly build up its contingent. It would be necessary to prepare an air corridor and organize the redeployment of forces by air. Under such a scenario, the OGRF and the army of Transnistria would fight alone for quite a long time.

Motive for Ukraine

The exact items of the ammunition remaining in the depot are unknown, but, according to experts, it may be extremely broad – from small arms ammunition to aerial bombs and rockets to multiple rocket launchers.

The village itself is only 2.5 km from the border with Ukraine, which means that Kiev, which is experiencing a severe shortage of ammunition, cannot help but think about seizing the depot. It could substantially satisfy the ammunition hunger of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Expiring ammunition would hardly embarrass the Ukrainian army, which uses even expired ammunition supplied by NATO countries.


Given the Kiev regime’s cannibalistic attitude even towards its own population, it is hardly frightened by the consequences of a possible explosion of ammunition in Kolbasna. It may even be satisfied not only with the seizure but also with the explosion of the depot, since the blame in this case would undoubtedly be put on Russia.

It seems that the main limiting factor here is the caution of Ukraine’s Western supervisors, who are apparently not yet ready to sharply escalate the situation by unfreezing the conflict in Transnistria.

However, if the West decides to further escalate the conflict in Ukraine, an attack on the Kolbasna depot will clearly be one of the most attractive scenarios.

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency

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