May 10, 2022, updated June 2, 2022
Publisher’s Note: Honorary Columnist Dr. Alexander Los sent this Op-Ed on May 10th. Due to scheduling difficulties, the editorial review process was delayed. By May 23rd, with the installation of the additional S-400 air defense systems in the northwest of the annexed Crimea, seizure of the Snake Island and equipping it with the air defense systems as well, Alex’s warning has only gained importance. June 2, 2022 became a pivotal point, as the Moldovan Parliament adopts a law prohibiting broadcasting of the Russian media in Moldova. This is the third Op-Ed by Alex, related to his 1st on March 28, 2022, “Putin is Ready for the “Red” Button – Can Biden & NATO Still Stop Him? Know Vladimir Zhirinovsky & Andrei Bogolyubsky to Know Putin Better,” and his 2nd on April 22, 2022, “Russia’s War Degrades Ukraine’s Intellectual Power.” This latest Op-Ed – a snapshot in present tense – is a must read for those who enjoy solving complex problems with answers residing in nuances. The United States Department of Defense, along with Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and his executive staff may find this helpful, and as a checklist. The America Times is grateful to Dr. Los for his expertise and analysis – in keeping with the United States’ recent protocol for this War of being open and transparent – in giving some needed clarity as to this meandering War’s direction.
June 8, 2022
Russia to Dominate the Black Sea? Mediterranean?
In my previous articles, I emphasized the Black Sea region for global security and the actions taken by the United Kingdom and Ukraine. As the Russian invasion into Ukraine evolves into a long campaign, the next target for the No Limits Partnership of Russia and China is to establish dominance over the northwest of the Black Sea. After that, the next, but not the last, target is Moldova – a country, where Russian Federation has been following the same pattern as in any other former Soviet Republic: create an artificial pro-Russian enclave and then to later “liberate” Russophonic or Russophile “Countrymates” and “brothers.” As the world has learned in Russia’s war against Ukraine, “liberation” means killing “brothers,” destroying infrastructure, annexation, and then installation of Russian military bases.
Moldova: Administrative and Political
The Republic of Moldova is formally a neutral unitary state, divided into 39 first-level administrative units: 32 districts, 5 municipalities and 2 autonomous entities. In the autumn of 1998, the country’s parliament amended the Law on Local Public Administration, which delineated the competencies of villages (communes), cities (municipalities) and districts. Therefore, from 1999 to February 2003, Moldova was divided into 9 counties, 1 municipality (Chisinau) and 2 administrative-territorial entities that needed special attention: 1) Gagauzia (administrative-territorial entity); and 2) Dubossary district (administrative-territorial entity)
The current division was adopted on December 27, 2001 by Law №764, published on January 29, 2002. It includes 32 districts, 5 municipalities (Chisinau, Balti, Bender, Comrat, Tiraspol), 1
autonomous territorial entity – Gagauzia (administrative center – Comrat), 1 region – Transnistria
(administrative center – Tiraspol), see Fig.2.
The territories of Moldova, which are officially part of the Autonomous Territorial Entity with a special legal status of Transnistria, are controlled by the unrecognized self-proclaimed, so-called Transnistrian Moldavian Republic (abbreviated as Transnistria), which the international community recognizes as part of Moldova. Population ~ 470,000. In December 2013, the Verkhovnyi Soviet (parliament) of Transnistria adopted in the first reading of a bill on the application of Russian federal law in the unrecognized republic. In March 2014, the Verkhovnyi Soviet of Transnistria asked the State Duma of Russia to develop a law that would allow the recognition of an unrecognized republic by Russia. In September 2016, Transnistria began preparations for joining the Russian Federation, in particular through the harmonization of legislation. In April 2017, the Verkhovnyi Soviet of the unrecognized Transnistrian region adopted in the final reading of a bill according to which the Russian flag became the second “state” in the region. As emphasized in the explanatory note to the bill, the use of the state flag of Russia in Transnistria “is related to the desire of residents of the region to join Russia on the basis of the results of the 2006 referendum.”
Russian Major General Rustam Minnekayev: Land Bridge to Transnistria
On March 15, 2022, the PACE adopted the final version of the document “Consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.” Paragraph 5 contains a direct to Ukraine, but also of Georgia and Moldova. [1, 2] The resolution on the de facto occupation of Transnistria was submitted by 21 deputies, nine of whom were representatives of Romania. On April 25, 2022, in the office of the “Ministry of State Security” (“MGB”) of the Transnistrian region in Tiraspol, the “capital” of the self-proclaimed country, there were several shellings of the building of the “MGB.” Russian-made RPG tubes were found after the shelling near the “MGB” building. 
The attack came a week after a high-ranking Russian military official raised the issue of Russian-speakers in Transnistria in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reiterating Moscow’s justification for the war in Ukraine. Major General Rustam Minnekayev, acting commander of the Central Military District of Russia, said that Russia’s military action plan in Ukraine provides for the full control over southern Ukraine, which could provide Russia with land access, aka land bridge, to the so-called Transnistrian Moldavian Republic.
And then, Gagauzia
The intervention of Russian troops to the autonomous territorial entity of Gagauzia is a necessary step in the progression of this war on Ukraine. On December 23, 1994, the Moldovan Parliament passed the Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia (Gagauzia-Eri), which gave the Gagauzian compact region the right to autonomy within the Republic of Moldova. The vast majority of the population of Gagauzia is Orthodox Gagauz Turks.  Population ~165,000. The predominant language is Russian.  It is also noteworthy that the official e-mail address of the President of Gagauzia is a regular address in the Russian domain [email protected] 
On February 2, 2014, two referendums were held in Gagauzia: legislative and consultative. More than 96% of voters voted for Gagauzia’s right to “external self-determination,” for Moldova’s accession to the Eurasian Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, founded on January 1, 2010, and against Moldova’s accession to the European Union.  To some extent, Russia’s direct influence on Gagauzia is being dampened by Turkey’s direct investment in civilian infrastructure and educational programs.
Military infrastructure and capabilities of Transnistria and Gagauzia
- a) Military airfield 1 km northwest of Tiraspol. The concrete runway is 2,500 meters long and 44 meters wide; ICAO code: LUTR; b) A weapons and ammunition depot located in Kovbasna (Cobasna). The arsenal includes about 20,000 tons of artillery and infantry ammunition, as well as other military equipment. The storage life of ammunition and weapons stored there has long expired , but still, about 7 – 8 thousand tons of ammunition may be suitable; c) The number of Russian military personnel, according to various sources, are from 1,500 to 2,000 people and located in the cities of Tiraspol and Kovbasna. The personnel of the so-called “PMR” troops is about 5,500 people; d) The mobilization potential for the reinforcement of Russian troops, according to various estimates, is at least 20,000 people.
- a) There is no significant military infrastructure, but there are asphalt roads and some sections of the freight railway pass through that territory; b) Mobilization potential for Russian troops. Gagauzia is conscripting into the armed forces of the Republic of Moldova .
Current Military & Political Situation in Ukraine, and in its South-West
In the beginning of May Russian troops were attacking the Ukrainian city of Odessa with cruise missiles. Ukrainian sources said that Russian special services were to carry out attacks under a “false flag” on key sites in Transnistria. Transnistrian sources claimed that Ukrainian UAVs dropped four explosives on the night of May 6 – 7 at the airport in Varankau on the border of Transnistria and Ukraine. The situation in the Bessarabian direction was tense, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Almost 3 weeks later, as of May 26, 2022 the Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces are protecting the border and conducting counter-sabotage measures.
Potential Escalation by Russian Military: Intermittent target – to the Balkans!
Current Western politicians usually take for granted the present control of NATO over Eastern Mediterranean (Adriatic) peninsula (Fig. 5).
But, yet again, the history holds answers to most of the questions.
A quick glance at the post-WWII map (Fig. 6) multiplied with the russian mania to regain former domination over regions and nations uncovers further, but not final, russian geopolitical vectors.
According to the strategic plan of the Russian masterminds beyond political leadership, they are seeking maximum dominance along the Black Sea coast, with further creation of a corridor to Serbia and eventually other 10 Balkan nations of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania and Slovenia and, subsequently, the Mediterranean, as an intermittent goal. As a byproduct, Russia is threatening Moldova with annexation. The reason is obvious – eliminate the threat of merger between neutral Moldova and NATO-member Romania, and regain control over the former soviet republic.
Gagauzia is left almost out of scope by the Western analysts, as it does not constitute a significant military interest. However, the lessons learnt show that russian favorite tool is not military, but annexation via so-called “self-determination” of “russian-world” citizens of other countries. Gagauzia is exactly that kind of a russian tool, which will allow to split Moldova.
Public people of Slovakia have already also verbalized that should Russia succeed to take over Ukraine, Slovakia would be the next target. This will trigger the domino effect, as there are countries in the region which, being formal members of the EU and NATO openly declare their sympathy to Russia, and would not prevent Russia to regain access to the Balkans.
But Ukrainians’ fight-back, supported by United States, and many friends and allies in Europe and elsewhere, while surely motivated for Ukraine’s survival, is also the battle to prevent Russian adventurism beyond Ukraine. Its worthy of note, that humanitarian aid is coming from many nations, including, India.