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Transnistrian region of Moldova

The involvement of the Soviet 14th Guards Army in the War of Transnistria was extensive and contributed to the outcome, which left the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic with de facto independence from the Republic of Moldova.


The 14th Guards Army was formed as a unit of the Soviet Army circa 1956 from the 10th Guards 'Budapest' Rifle Corps, formerly part of the Odessa Military District[1] with headquarters in Chişinău.

In the 1980s the army headquarters was moved to Tiraspol, within the then Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic. By 1991, the army was made up of four motor rifle divisions and other smaller units. Only the 59th Guards Motor Rifle Division and some smaller units, including the 1162nd Anti-Aircraft Rocket Regiment were on the left bank of the Dniester in the region of Transnistria.[2] Other formations, including the 28th Guards and 180th Motor Rifle Divisions, were over the border in the Ukraine and became part of the Ukrainian Ground Forces. According to the Army sources, local Transnistrians made up the great majority of its soldiers, including 51 percent of the officers and 79 percent of the draftees.[3]

Formation in 1989 Formation in 1991-2 (Ukraine)[4]
28th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Chernomorskoe) 28th Mechanized Brigade
59th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Tiraspol) Same - under Russian control
86th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Beltsy) Reduced to storage site and then disbanded
180th Motor Rifle Division (Белгород-Днестровский) Transferred to Ukraine and disbanded

Order of battle

14th Guard Army

  • 173rd Rocket Brigade (Bender)
  • 189th Rocket Brigade (Balti): 13 R-145BM
  • 156th Flock Rocket Brigade (Ungheni)
  • 865th Anti-Air Defense Command Post
  • 4th Artillery Regiment (Ungheni): 36 D-30 howitzer, 24 2A36 "Giatsint", 26 BM-27 Uragan, 3 PRP-3, 3 Klyon 1, 2 1V19, 5 R-145BM, 54 MT-LB (for 47 T-12)
    • 803rd Rocket Artillery Regiment (folded, assets to 4th Artillery Reg)
    • 2335th Recon Artillery Regiment (folded, assets to 4th Artillery Reg)
  • 714th Separate Recon Artillery Battalion (Ungheni)
  • 36th Separate Helicopter Squadron (Tirospol): 8 Mi-8, 1 Mi-6, 2 Mi-24K, 2 Mi-24R
  • 321st Separate Squadron of Unmanned Reconnaissance Systems (Tiraspol)
  • Air Assault Battalion (Tiraspol)
  • 194th Pontoon Bridge Regiment, 115th Separate Engineer Sapper Battalion (Parcani): 4 IRM
  • 15th Separate Signal Regiment (Tiraspol): 9 R-145BM, 1 R-156BTR, 1 R-137B, 1 P-240BT
  • 108th Separate Radio Engineering Regiment (Bender)
  • 130th Chemical Defense Battalion, 785th Infection Recon Battalion (Bender)
  • 58th Radio Engineering Battalion, 976th and 2242nd battalions of Raio Electronic Resistance (Bender)
  • 5381st Base of Property Storage (Floreşti): 63 MT-LB, 25 R-145BM, 2 RKhM Kashalot, 3 UR-67 as well as 27 9M113 Konkurs, 32 S-60

On November 19, 1990 the 14th Guard Army beside the above-mentioned units additionally included:

The army was accounted for 229 tanks, 305 various armored vehicles, 328 artillery guns, mortars, and multiple rocket launchers, 43 battle and 31 transportation helicopters of army aviation (another helicopter regiment was located in Raukhivka, Odessa Oblast)

War of Transnistria

While the official policy of the Russian Federation early after the outbreak of the widespread armed conflict in 1992 was one of neutrality, many soldiers and officers of the 14th Army were sympathetic to the PMR cause and had defected to the PMR and actively participated in the fighting as part of its armed forces the Republican Guards. Furthermore, a considerable amount of the army’s materiel was taken without resistance or given to the PMR armed forces.[5]

The commanding officer of the Army, General G. I. Yakovlev, was openly supportive of the newly created PMR. He participated in the founding of the PMR, served in the PMR Supreme Soviet and accepted the position as the first chairman of the PMR Department of Defense on 3 December 1991, causing the Commander-in-Chief of the CIS armed forces, Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, to relieve him of his rank and service in the Russian military.[6] Yakovlev's successor, General Yuriy Netkachev has assumed a more neutral stance in the conflict.[7] However, his attempts at mediation between Chişinău and Tiraspol were largely unsuccessful.[8]

On 23 March 1992, Shaposhnikov signed a decree authorising the transfer of military equipment of 14th Guards Army units stationed on the right bank of the Dniester to the Republic of Moldova. This military equipment had constituted the majority of the materiel utilized by the Moldavian army in the ensuing War of Transnistria. A second decree, issued on 1 April by Boris Yeltsin, transferred the personnel of the 14th Guards Army, as well as all left-bank military equipment, including a large weapons stockpile at Cobasna, under Russian jurisdiction.[9]

By June 1992 the situation had escalated to an open military engagement. With the near disintegration of the army during the heaviest fighting in and around the city of Bendery, in the wake of a coordinated offensive by Moldavian forces, General Major Alexander Lebed arrived at the 14th Army headquarters on 23 June with standing orders to stop the ongoing conflict with any available means, inspect the army, prevent the theft of armaments from its depots and ensure the unimpeded evacuation of armaments and Army personnel from Moldavian and through Ukrainian territory. After briefly assessing the situation, he assumed command of the army, relieving Netkachev, and ordered his troops to enter the conflict directly. On 3 July at 03:00, a massive artillery strike originating from the 14th Army formations stationed on left bank of the Dniester obliterated the Moldavian force concentrated in Gerbovetskii forest, near Bendery, effectively ending the military phase of the conflict.[8][9][10] According to at least one Moldavian source, 112 Moldavian soldiers were killed by the bombardment.[11]


Since the end of the conflict, a separate Russian unit was moved into the region as part of the joint Russian-Moldovan-Transnistrian peacekeeping force, the Joint Control Commission. The 14th Guards Army itself was reformed in April 1995 into the Operational Group of Russian Forces in Moldova which came under the command of the Moscow Military District and was charged with guarding the weapons stockpile at Cobasna.[9] The force is now around 1200 strong, and according to Kommersant-Vlast in 2005, consisted of the 8th Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, the 1162nd Anti-Aircraft Rocket Regiment, 15th Signals Regiment, and other support units.[12]

Current situation

The operational group is as of September 2014 commanded by Major General Boris Sergeyev of Russia and numbers 1,199 troops. It serves alongside the Joint Control Commission.[13]

On 18 November 2008, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution, urging Russia to "respect its commitments which were taken at the Istanbul OSCE Summit in 1999 and withdraw its illegal military presence from the Transdnestrian region of Moldova in the nearest future."[14]


  1. "Russian troops in Transnistria – a threat to the security of the Republic of Moldova" By Dr. Mihai Gribincea, Institute of Political and Military Studies, Chişinău, Moldova]
  2. Feskov et al., 2004, "The Soviet Army in the period of the Cold War", Tomsk University Press.
  3. Edward Ozhiganov, "The Republic of Moldova: Transdniester and the 14th Army," in "Managing Conflict in the Former Soviet Union: Russian and American Perspectives," Alexei Arbatov, et al. eds. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997), p. 179.
  4. Feskov et al 2004, 57, 104-105
  5. The flow of Red Army men and materiel to PMR armed forces was widely reported in the CIS press at the time. See for ex., Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 18, 1992 trans. in FBIS, June 19, 1992, 63; and Radio Rossii, June 20, 1992, trans. in FBIS, June 22, 1992, 62.
  6. (Russian) Anna Volkova, "Leader" (Tiraspol’: [s.n.], 2001), p. 56. Available online at:
  7. Igor Smirnov, "Zhit’ na nashei zemle." (Moscow: Sovetskii pisatel’, 2001), p. 62.
  8. 8.0 8.1 (Russian) Mikhail Bergman, "Вождь в чужой стае"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Irina F. Selivanova, "U.S. and Russian Policymaking With Respect to the Use of Force", chapter 4, Trans-Dniestria
  10. (Russian) Anatolii Mikhailovich Kazakov, "Krovavoe leto v benderakh – zapiski pokhodnogo atamana".
  11. (Russian) Sergei Skripnik, "Benderskie Khroniki"
  12. (Russian) "Что такое современная армия России" 21 February 2005, Kommersant-Vlast
  13. Ian Johnstone (ed), Annual Review of Global Peace Operations 2007, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder/London, p.131
  14. NATO-resolution. 11. b.

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