US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Sunday March 30 instructed US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme commander in Europe, to set out at once from Washington to Brussels for consultations with alliance commanders on a possible Russian invasion of Moldova after Crimea.
There are fears in Washington that Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border are poised to take Transdniester (Transnistria), a Russian speaking enclave that has declared independence from Moldova.
US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) reported to Fox News Sunday night on information he had received that Russian troops along Ukraine’s western border were poised to go into this pro-Russian enclave where 1,000 Russian troops have been posted for some time.
About a third of Transdniester’s half-million people are ethnic Russians, many of whom want to return to rule from Moscow. Last week, Gen Breedlove warned that President Putin had a readymade pretext to send troops in there as a “protection” force for ethnic Russians, just as he has done in Crimea.
According to Congressman Rogers, Russian covert forces had infiltrated parts of Ukraine with large Russian-speaking populations to foment demands for Moscow’s next incursions.
The congressman also alleged that Russia is building up its military forces in the separatist Georgian region of South Ossetia. He suggested that Russian president Vladimir Putin “is considering an invasion of both Georgia and the Armenia” to seize the disputed Nagorno-Karabach pocket, “as part of an effort to create an overland link between Russia and Iran.”
debkafile’s military sources say that if Rogers is correct in his assessments, Putin is not just preparing to strengthen Russia’s military positions in the Black sea region but seeks to spread Russian control across a larger area up to the Caspian Sea.
As seen from Washington and Jerusalem – where America’s top armed forces chief, Gen. Martin Dempsey is on a visit for talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon – Putin appears to be gearing up to create a Russian military line to shield Iran against a potential attack on its nuclear facilities coming from the north, over the Caspian.
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has also described the 40,000 Russian troops deployed on Ukraine’s borders as “a formation that looks like an invasion force.”
Our military experts point out that if Russia decides to invade Moldova it faces three optional routes of access, none of them easy:
1. To conquer a large part of Ukraine in order cut a route through to the enclave;
2. To drop troops in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Odessa and head for Transdniester from the south.
3. To drop airborne special forces on the enclave.
President Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia’s US ambassador Sergey Kislyak have all emphatically denied that Moscow has any further military plans for Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea.