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ISW: Ukraine unlikely to have hit Russian helicopter in Transnistria

According to the ISW, Ukraine is unlikely to have struck the Russian helicopter in Transnistria amid Russia’s hybrid operation to destabilize Moldova.
A Russian grounded Mi-8 helicopter getting destroyed by an unknown drone in Moldova’s Transnistria on 17 March 2024. Source
ISW: Ukraine unlikely to have hit Russian helicopter in Transnistria

On 17 March, an unidentified party deployed a drone at a military base in Transnistria, the Russian-controlled region in Moldova, “amidst an assessed ongoing Kremlin hybrid operation aimed at destabilizing Moldova from within,” according to the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Drone attack destroyed Russian helicopter in Moldova’s Transnistria (photos, video)

On 17 March, Transnistrian media reported that a drone, allegedly coming from the direction of Ukraine’s Odesa Oblast, struck a helicopter at an unspecified military unit in Transnistria, and shared video footage of the drone attack.

Neither Transnistrian nor Russian authorities have blamed Ukrainian forces for the strike, though they may do so in the future. Alexander Shcherba, former Chairman of the Transnistrian Supreme Council, claimed that the attack bore “Ukrainian fingerprints” and that Ukraine was the “main beneficiary.”

The Moldovan Bureau of Reintegration reported that the targeted helicopter had been grounded for years, suggesting the strike was intended to incite fear and panic in Transnistria as part of an information operation against Moldova. However, they did not directly accuse Transnistrian or pro-Russian forces of executing the attack. Moldovan authorities also confirmed they were in communication with the Ukrainian government.

Andrii Yusov, spokesperson for the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (HUR), characterized the incident as a Russian provocation. Additionally, the Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation accused Russia of executing the strike to manipulate the information space.

ISW says it “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,” as Ukrainian officials have also recently stated that Transnistria does not pose a military threat to Ukraine.

Recently, Transnistrian authorities requested unspecified “zashchita” (defense/protection) from Russia against Moldova., and “Russia or Russian-linked actors would likely be the beneficiaries of this provocation in order to further the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts to set information conditions to justify a variety of Russian hybrid operations that aim to destabilize Moldova, about which ISW has extensively warned,” ISW concluded.

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