Where and how Romania will fight Russia – Part I

American M1A2 and Romanian TR-85M tanks

American M1A2 and Romanian TR-85M tanks 

2015/05/01 • Military analysis

Two weeks ago I explained why Romania will fight Russia if Putin expands his war from Donbas further into Ukraine. A few commented that Romania wouldn’t fight – they are mistaken. Romania will fight, as abandoning Moldavia to Russia’s imperial ambitions would end the freedom and sovereignty of Romania itself. Romania has every right to go to war against Russia, even in another country, as Putin himself approved of this, when he declared that Russia “has the right and the obligation to protect Russians anywhere in the world.” Therefore Romania equally has the right (and obligation) to come to the aid and defense of Romanians living in Moldova.

To defend Moldova Romania needs to prepare, by arming its military and training its troops, for four scenarios:

  1. Hybrid war in Gagauzia
  2. Transnistria attacking Moldova
  3. Russian forces coming by sea
  4. Russian forces coming by land

The Kremlin could commence hostilities by any one of the four scenarios or enact them all in sequence.  Therefore Romania must prepare for all four with equal vigor, and prepare quickly because after a year of being rewarded again and again by the corrupt and atrociously ignorant heads of government of the European Union, Putin now lives under the belief that might is right.

1. Hybrid war in Gagauzia Scenario

Gagauzia is an autonomous territorial unit in the South of Moldova. It is the only area not settled by a majority of Romanians. The Gagauz are Turkic-speaking, Orthodox Christians from Bulgaria, who were invited to settle in the Budjak region by Tsarist authorities after the Russo-Turkish War of 1806–12. At the start of that war Russia had deported the Budjak’s entire original population of Muslim Nogai-Tatars to Crimea, considering them to be a security risk because of their religion.

Moldova with Gagauzia in red

Moldova with Gagauzia highlighted in red.

Today about 150,000 Gagauz live in Moldova. Since 1989 Russia used the threats of a secession movement in Gagauzia, renewed war with Transnistria and economic blackmail to stymie Moldovan efforts to move closer to the EU and Romania. Now that Moldova has finally decided to untie its fate from the backward mafia-fiefdom of Transnistria and is bravely fighting Russia’s economic blackmail by re-focusing its economy towards the West, Gagauzia is Russia’s last lever and Putin is already pulling it: on 2 February 2014 Gagauzia held a Russian organized “referendum,” which produced some amazing results, that were announced while ballots were still (!) being “counted.” According to the announcement 98.4% voted for joining Putin’s Customs Union, 97.2% rejected EU association and 98.9% voted for independence.  Something “over 70%” was announced as the “turnout,” though naturally voter turnout was not actually calculated. A month later the Kremlin repeated this kind of farce on Crimea, but there just 96.77% “voted” for Russia. Still those are fantastic “results” compared to, for example, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who only got a measly 88.7% in the 2014 Syrian presidential “election.”

Everyone, but Russian propaganda, having ignored the Gagauz “referendum,” Russia threw money and candidates at the Moldovan parliamentary election. But that attempt at meddling in the internal affairs of another nation failed too, and Moldova now has a young, pro-EU Prime Minister in Chiril Gaburici.  In a last ditch effort to retain leverage over Moldova, Russia threw all its intelligence, criminal and monetary capabilities into the Gagauz local elections and thus got its local henchwoman Irina Vlah elected. Now Russia showers Gagauzia with financial largesse and threatens daily that this largesse will disappear if Moldova’s EU association deepens.

These Russian lies will lead to war. Moldovans will not stray from their pro-EU course and they will not let the 4% Gagauzians of the population dictate what direction the nation can take. Russia will lie and fear-monger until the situation in Gagauzia will escalate to uncontrolled violence and then Russia will provide arms, mercenaries and money to stoke this hybrid war.

This war could be prevented if the EU would provide Moldova with generous financial subsidies to strengthen its Western oriented and reform-minded government. This war could be prevented if the EU would invite Gagauz leaders to visit South Tyrol in Italy, which has the most wide-ranging and most-secure autonomy globally, and assure the Gagauz leaders such autonomy could be theirs if they were to support closer EU association. This war could be prevented if the EU would spend a mere 1% of the funds destined for Greece on Moldova.

But this war won’t be prevented, because the EU is mismanaged by incompetent, uneducated and terrified politicians, who would rather have a war in Moldova or Latvia, than reducing their nation’s social system or raising their nation’s taxes. Therefore one day armed, masked men will take over government buildings in Gagauzia, with Moldova having neither the military nor police to squash this Russian coup.

Moldova’s armed forces and police are minuscule and underfunded, as every attempt by Moldova to raise its defense budget from its disastrously low 0.25% of GDP has been met by Russian threats that raising the budget would “inflame tensions with Transnistria.” Russian also claims that there is no need to raise the budget as Russian forces in Transnistria were “enough to keep the peace.” Thus Moldova is now unprepared to defeat an uprising in Gagauzia and Russia counts on this. Just as during its attack on Ukraine, Russia assumes it will have ample time to occupy a large swath of Moldovan territory, drive out Romanians as well as train Gagauz mercenaries and criminals. When Moldova’s armed forces would be finally ready for an assault, it would, just as in Sloviansk, require heavy military equipment, cost hundreds of lives and lead to more war.

Polite Green Men - Romanian edition

Polite Green Men – Romanian edition

Therefore Romania must prepare to squash any kind of armed unrest in Gagauzia quickly and with utter ruthlessness. Ukraine’s corrupt police and its under-financed, unprepared military did not squash Russia’s little green men in Donetsk, Luhansk and Sloviansk fast enough. On the other hand the citizens of Odesa squashed Russia’s attempt to establish a bridgehead in their city quickly, efficiently and with the required ruthlessness to dissuade others. Theirs is an example to follow. Not just for Romania and Moldova, but also for Latvia and Estonia: if they are armed and masked and occupy buildings – wipe them out as quickly as you can.

Hybrid War in Gagauzia would commence with the occupation of government and police buildings in the Gagauz capital of Comrat. This city of 26,000 is a mere 140km from Bacău in Romania, where the Romanian Air Force’s 863rd Helicopter Squadron and the Romanian Army’s 630th Paratrooper Battalion are based, or in other words: Bacău is home to Romania’s Polite Green Men.

Just as Russia did in Crimea and continues to do in Donbas, Romania should keep a tiny veil of deniability when its helicopters fly troops from Bacău to Comrat to wipe out Russia’s agents there. What can Putin say, when men in insignia-less uniforms with “weapons bought from a shop,” fight his men in insignia-less uniforms with weapons bought from a shop?

Additionally the Romanian Army’s 620th Special Forces Battalion in Buzău and the troops of the Special Brigade of Intervention of the Romanian Gendarmerie in Bucharest should be readied for deployment as Polite Green Men to Gagauzia. When combined these anti-terrorism units of Romania are trained, armed and numerous enough to quell any attempt by Russia to replicate the Donbas or Crimea scenario in Gagauzia. Romania doesn’t need to buy new equipment or increase the number of its Special Forces. All Romania needs is to be ready to move these troops to Gagauzia within hours of any unrest and have them quell it as efficiently as possible.

2. Transnistria attacking Moldova Scenario

The Kremlin could also decide to renew the Transnistria War it created, stoked and then “resolved” in 1992. Since that time the war has been frozen, but Russia has kept enough material, troops and ammunition in Transnistria to heat it up again at any time. Currently the armed forces of Transnistria and the Russian forces based there outnumber the Moldovan Army 2:1 and with a large superiority in tanks, artillery and helicopters. Moldova’s army is also widely dispersed over its territory while Transnistrian troops are based where they will be needed in case of war:

  • One Transnistrian brigade is based in Rîbnița in the North with the task to tie down Moldova’s 1st Infantry Brigade in Bălţi
  • One Transnistrian brigade is based in Dubăsari and tasked to overrun the Moldovan enclaves on the Eastern side of the Dniester River
  • One Transnistrian brigade is based in Tiraspol and one in Bender, which would have to drive just 45km to reach Moldova’s capital Chișinău, which is defended by just one Moldovan brigade.

If Putin were to order a resumption of the war in Moldova, either as a pretext to demand a corridor from Odesa to Transnistria or in angry response to the failure of a Russian organized uprising in Gagauzia, Moldova could not defeat such an attack on its own. Moldova’s army is too small, too badly trained, too under-equipped and too dispersed. Moldova’s only advantage is that almost the entire front would run along the Dniester River, with the bad news that almost all bridges are located in cities or close to cities with Transnistrian troop concentrations, which will prevent Moldova from blowing up the bridges in time.

Moldova with Transnistria in red

In short Moldova cannot defend itself. Russia knows this and Romania knows this, which is why Romania’s 15th Mechanized Brigade is based in Iaşi, 15km from Moldova’s border and 2 hours’ drive from Chișinău. In case of war the 15th Mechanized Brigade would be the first to come to the aid of Moldovan forces, followed by the 282nd Mechanized Brigade based in Focșani. The 15th and 282nd are Romania’s best equipped brigades and are both under command of the 2nd Infantry Division “Getica” in Buzău, which could also draw on Romania’s 8th Artillery Brigade in Focşani and the 10th Engineer Brigade in Brăila for rocket artillery fire and river-crossing capabilities. Additionally four MiG-21 LanceR-A ground attack squadrons of the Romanian air force based at Feteşti and Bacău would pound Transnistrian forces relentlessly if they ever advanced into Moldova.

Together with Moldova’s 3rd Infantry Brigade in Cahul and its Artillery Brigade in Ungheni this combined Romanian-Moldovan force will be enough to stop and defeat any Transnistrian advance towards Chișinău, but these forces are not strong enough and not well equipped enough to cross the Dniester and defeat Transnistria for good. To truly defeat Transnistria Romania would have to send at least three additional mechanized brigades to Moldova and call up large numbers of reservists to bring all brigades to full strength. However it is not in Romania’s interested to cross the Dniester and eliminate Transnistria; as such a turn of events would definitely see the Russian military intervene directly against Romania. Russia will keep its forces out of direct combat until Romanian-Moldovan forces reach the city of Bender, which lies on the Western side of the Dniester but is currently under Transnistrian control. Also any attempt to cross the Dniester further north would see Russia’s “peacekeeping” forces intervene directly in the conflict.

Russia’s intervention would consist of two things: ground forces joining Transnistrian forces at the front and artillery support, but with Romanian air superiority such artillery support would be quickly destroyed. Luckily for Moldova and Romania Russia cannot provide modern artillery, air-defense and tank support, because, unlike in Donbas, Russia has no direct land connection to Transnistria, and every piece of equipment and all troops sent there have to pass through Moldova’s Chișinău airport. Therefore the only way for Russia to provide quick battlefield support is to fire ballistic missiles from Crimea over the Black Sea and over Ukraine at Romanian force concentrations along the Dniester.

Last December Russia moved Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles, which can also carry nuclear warheads, to Crimea and with a range of nearly 500km these missiles are the only ones able to reach Transnistria from Crimea. However Russia won’t fire nuclear warheads against Romanian forces in Transnistria, it would fire them at Romanian or Moldovan cities in case Romanian and Moldovan forces cross the Dniester in force.

But while an uprising in Gagauzia or a rekindled Transnistria war would be easy for Romania to defeat with its current military forces, and even a Russian attempted airborne landing of troops to reinforce Transnistria could be defeated by the combined air-defense and air forces of Romania, Moldova and Ukraine, Romania is badly prepared if Putin decides to land Russian forces in Odesa and engage Romania militarily.

Where and how Romania will fight Russia – Part II 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Euromaidan Press as an organization.

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  • Nad Fox

    Remember, they said the same:

  • Woloh

    Only when Romania, Poland, and Ukraine understand that they need a military/defense alliance between the three – only then they might have a chance.

    • Adrian S

      Many such attempts were made in the past (and they always failed). Politics makes things hard. Freedom of choice is bad when you have to act fast. These countries + the baltics, which have been just as active as Poland, have too little fighting capabilities compared to Russia, so they need support from the west, but not only from NATO allies. If countries like China keep encouraging the Russians, there’s very little that these countries can do, by themselves, in the current european stage.

      • Michaelinlondon1234

        Poland spent a decade slaughtering people in Afghanistan for the Americans.Same as the Ukraine and Romanian forces.
        They all enjoyed it.

        • Adrian S

          Are you some kind of retard, or something?

          • commieslayer
          • Michaelinlondon1234

            I find it fascinating that they did the same for the USSR.
            Did you know in over 40 years of almost none stop war the population has more than doubled.
            One could argue from a sociological point of view it is a driver of sex.
            Bit tragic really

        • John Shirley

          Well good, then they should be seasoned warriors and kicking the Ruskies asses should be “child’s play”. So the Reds will just have to “Deal With It”.

          • Michaelinlondon1234

            Personally I am hopeing the Russians will finally nuke Washington.
            It is the only way that bunch of war criminals in the US will be brought to justice.

    • commieslayer

      The alliance is already under construction.

  • Yuriy

    Romania used to have territorial claims to Ukraine, from 1991 to 1995, demanding Ukraine to condemn Molotov-Ribbentrop act and return the territories that act gave to Ukraine.
    In 1995, thanks to Romania’s strong will to join NATO, Romania dropped the claims.
    But from the point of view of Ukraine, I would be very cautious about what Romania will or will not do.

    • Enache Cosmin

      from the point of view of a romanian russia and his acolytes should mind their own fucking business and try to develop their shitholes more and create wealth not to steal lands

      • commieslayer

        Or else, we’d be happy to oblige and put a bullet through their skulls. The only language that Putin’s lovers understand.

    • Andrei Bardezi

      Yuriy, although Bucovina (with it’s Ukcranian part) is a very important part to Romania, we will never go farther than to ask for (equal) rights for the ethnic Romanians living there. We won’t stab Ukraine in the back, the public opinion will not support it.

      • Adrian S

        And most Romanian nationals in Ukraine live in other geographical regions than those which Romania has obtained at the beginning of last century. It’s more in our interest to gain equal rights for the Romanian minority in Ukraine than it is to gain those de-facto territories.

        • Michaelinlondon1234

          Some groups in Ukraine are famous for there attitude to genocide as Donetsk found out over the last 12 months of Kiev bombing the region.

          • commieslayer

            Vatnik alert !

      • Yuriy

        May be now, but to give you an example, in September of 1991 Romanian parliament issued a statement on Ukrainian referendum, asserting that the referendum should not take place on the former Romanian territories, such as northern Bukovina or counties of southern Bessarabia, and saying that the results of the referendum in those areas will be considered invalid.

        https://books.google.com/books?id=PXScAJFQFloC&pg=PA228&lpg=PA228&dq=romania+refused+to+accept+the+result+of+ukrainian+referendum+bukovina&source=bl&ots=eMQCkUWkEI&sig=NodbJeUw2bfoccnxovKAt4Wsg_M&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NLNFVd-3K8aXNv7VgegN&ved=0CDoQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=romania%20refused%20to%20accept%20the%20result%20of%20ukrainian%20referendum%20bukovina&f=false

        My point being – this opinion can easily change, as it did before.

        • Catalin Aienoaie

          @Yuriy – and also in 1 december 1991 our Parlament ask Ukraine to not make political ellection in our ex-territories (North Bukovina, Bugeac, Hertza, and North Maramures)! We are the only owners of this lands! Soon or later will be returned to Mother-Land=Romania, wanted or not, this is the way and the truth. Ukraine will be no more in a few years!

          • commieslayer
          • Catalin Aienoaie

            Really, really commieslayer. Those lands was annexed by USSR in 1940. Pleasde, be fair and recognize the truth !

          • commieslayer

            Romanians have lived for millenia in regions which are currently in Ukraine, as did many others. The solution is not to dismember Ukraine but to help them defeat the common enemy, which is Russia. The issue of minorities can be solved aftwerwards.

          • Catalin Aienoaie

            OK. To not be so cruel. Better i`ll help Ukraine than Russia. Ukraine is more closer to us, than Rusia, we dont forgot that they were annexed our territories, and deported our brothers from: Cernauti, Bucovina, Bugeac, Transnistria, to Siberia and Kazahstan….this thing cannot be forgotten! I hope Russia will quickly be splitted and dezmembrated in pieces – soviet repuclic, same what they done with us, with poles, with ukrainians, bulgarians, hungarians, latvians, letons, estonians, etc…. the history is repeating and the territorial problems will be solved very soon, together with our “natural” union with Rep.Moldova….

          • commieslayer

            Those Romanian territories were not annexed by Ukraine but by the Soviet Union, which was led by Stalin (a Georgian). The deportations were also ordered by Stalin, who also deported countless Ukrainians and starved millions of them to death (including Ukrainians of Romanian origin) in the Holodmor. The issues between Romania and Ukraine were created by Soviet Russia and previously by the Russian Empire (who abused both Romania and Ukraine) and can only be resolved once the common enemy is defeated. Same applies to Moldova and Transnistria. Ukraine was denied statehood and self-rule by Russia starting with the 18th century, when the Zaporozhian Cossack state was progressively transformed by Russia in an imperial territory of the Russian Empire.

          • Dreea B.D.

            Shut the hell up, or go buy yourself a diplomacy course and a brain

        • commieslayer

          Yuriy, “divide et impera” doesn’t work with NATO, except in your wet dreams. Your pathetic Russia just made the biggest mistake of its existence, awakened the monster. Pray for deliverance, while you still can. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neDNY_ssHRk

      • Enache Cosmin

        those romanians are living there since more than 500 so …

        • commieslayer

          Romanians have been living there since the times of the Scythians and Sarmatians, as did many others. Proto-romanian communities existed on the Dniepr before the Slavs arrived, they are well attested in historical sources.

    • Dreea B.D.

      one of bolshevik scheme was to use fear propaganda to try to plant hostilities between powers, or plant “revolutionary” ideas of secession, reusing historical sensitivities to cause disputes between country, using internet media I guess. It’s already visible all over west europe, but they’re all a putinesque maneuver. I have reasons to prefer to be in solidarity to eastern europe most, and balkans. Instability across east europe would be a terrible idea for us all, i believe 😐

  • Calibra

    You do understand that in a war between Romania and Russia, Romania will be crushed and NATO will do nothing as Romania attacks first and art. 5 does not apply in that case, not even if Russia would invade Romania.

    You sir, live in a dream world.

    • Kruton

      The Murican Devil Army will crush the pathetic Bolshevik child molesters!

    • Murf

      Depends on how it is done.
      Russia is ridiculously easy to provoke in to over reacting. Moldova only needs to increase defense spending. Discriminate some intell similar to the “Victoria Nuland Recording” and Violia!
      After Russia’s use of Hybrid War it would be easy to “simulate” one taking place in Gaguzia. Moldova then simply calls on the EU and NATO to help defend it’s sovereignty. Romania “reluctantly” agrees in order to protect Romanian speaking people from being ethnically cleansed.
      Add some false flag boarder attacks against Ukraine and quick as Bob is Your Uncle the TD is regulated to the trash heep of history.
      Coolest part is that all that really needs to be done is to leak a similar plan and Russian paranoia will do the rest for you.
      Romania just needs to be prepared to act swiftly.

      • Michaelinlondon1234

        the only good American is a dead American.

        • Murf

          The only good Mikey is a silent Mikey

        • commieslayer

          Be careful that you don’t get what you wish for others, retard.

    • commieslayer

      Really “Calibra” ? How much do they post you to pay this crap ?!?

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/04/pro-russia-trolls-ukraine-guardian-online

    • Dreea B.D.

      What do you think you know, you agent of misinformation and fear agitator?

  • Nelu

    The second scenario was the subject of one book in Romania, a tecno-thriller named Mother Russia’s Whip (Cnutul Maicii Rusia in Romanian) in 2013 by writer Cristian Negrea. You can see tha map on the back cover of the book.

    http://www.cristiannegrea.ro/geopolitica/2013/07/cnutul-maicii-rusia-noul-meu-thriller-politico-militar/

  • Michaelinlondon1234

    Lets cut the bullshit State department propaganda and hope Russia just nukes Washington.

    • commieslayer

      Michael, get a real job. What sort of life is that, to be paid a few rubles to post this crap that even you don’t believe in. Did you notice that the ruble has lost half its value during the past year ? You can’t even afford to buy gelato with it anymore, thanks to your beloved idiot Putin. Putin hulo !

      http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=RUB&to=USD&view=2Y

  • GS_EV

    Gagauzia is not threat to Moldovan unity. Gagauzians suffered a lot all these centuries as well. They don’t want their state etc.