Ukraine's plans to deploy S-300 air defense systems in the Odessa Region, right beside the border with Transnistria, a de-facto independent state wedged between Moldova and Ukraine.
This will increase the chance of a military conflict between Transnistria and Ukraine. But most importantly, it could trigger a possible confrontation between Russia and the West, US global intelligence company Stratfor reported.
The deployment of Ukrainian S-300 in the Odessa Region is troublesome due to the presence of a 1,400 Russian peacekeeper contingent in Transnistria, Stratfor said. The Russian peacekeeping mission was established in the region as per the 1992 ceasefire agreement following the War of Transnistria in 1990-1992.
Under the current circumstances, Russia has been using a runway in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, to deliver equipment and supplies and to rotate its peacekeepers in and out of the region.
To reach Transnistria, Russian aircraft must pass through Ukrainian air space over Odessa from its closest airbase in Crimea. The deployment of the Ukrainian S-300 air defense systems in the Odessa Region puts Russian aircraft, doing airlift operations into Transnistria, in direct danger of getting shot down, Stratfor said.
To make things worse, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, well-known for his anti-Russian rhetoric, was appointed as the governor of Odessa. The residents of Odessa fear that Saakashvili might start war with Transnistria, using similar methods that he used during the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia, which started when Georgia, under his leadership, invaded South Ossetia, a tiny nation at the heart of the Caucasus. The war started when Georgian troops attacked South Ossetia, while Russian peacekeepers were deployed there.