Cobasna ammunition depot

Coordinates: 47°45′44″N 29°12′18″E / 47.7621°N 29.2050°E / 47.7621; 29.2050
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Cobasna is located in Moldova
Location of Cobasna, where the Cobasna ammunition depot is located, in Moldova.

The Cobasna ammunition depot, formally the 1411th Artillery Ammunition Depot[1] (Romanian: Depozitul de muniții de artilerie nr. 1411; Russian: 1411-й артиллерийский склад боеприпасов, romanized1411-y artilleriyskiy sklad boyepripasov), is a large ammunition depot located in the village of Cobasna. Legally and internationally recognized as part of Moldova as a whole, the unrecognized breakaway state of Transnistria controls the village and the ammunition depot and has denied access to international observers,[2] an exception being the Russian military forces located in the region ever since the end of the Transnistria War in 1992.[3] Outside access to the ammunition depot is effectively prohibited. Only the Russian and Transnistrian authorities have detailed information regarding the amount and situation of the stored weapons.[4]


The ammunition depot's Military Unit Number is 72431.[1] The original directive for the establishment of the depot was issued by the Red Army General Staff on 28 July 1941. In accordance with this directive, the depot was established in Kungur, now in Perm Krai, Russia, on 11 August of the same year. Starting from 30 January 1942, during World War II, the depot supplied Red Army units and formations of the Volkhov Front in Budogoshch, Kharkiv, Kirovohrad, Kremenchuk, Moscow, Oryol, Poltava and Vyshny Volochyok. From July 1945 to May 1949, the depot was located in Voznesensk, now in Odesa Oblast, Ukraine. Since May 1949, it is hosted in its current location in Cobasna. Until January 1992, the ammunition depot was subordinated to the Odesa Military District, forming part of the 14th Guards Army from then to April 1995 and since then being part of the Operational Group of Russian Forces.[5]

The Cobasna ammunition depot has been referred to as one of the largest[3] if not the largest ammunition depot in Eastern Europe[2] and contains up to 20,000 tons of Soviet-era weapons from the 14th Guards Army of the USSR and also from the former states of Czechoslovakia and East Germany. Currently, it is guarded by around 1,500 Russian soldiers. Ever since Russia's conflict with Ukraine, there has been growing distress in Moldova for the Cobasna ammunition depot, with some believing that the weapons there could be used in a potential future military conflict. Additionally, the Academy of Sciences of Moldova determined that an explosion of the weapons located in the ammunition depot, which passed their expiry date long ago, would be equivalent to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[3] Concern for such an event increased following the 2020 Beirut explosion.[2]

There have been several attempts and calls to withdraw both the weapons from the Cobasna ammunition depot and the Russian soldiers from Transnistria. During the 1999 Istanbul summit, Russia promised to completely withdraw its weapons and soldiers. Some progress was made, but following a request from the Transnistrian authorities asking Russia to maintain its army, the process stopped in 2003.[6] On the same year had the Kozak memorandum been proposed. It aimed to resolve the Transnistria conflict by reintegrating Transnistria into Moldova with veto powers while keeping an increased Russian military contingent stationed in Transnistria for fifteen more years. It was rejected at the last minute by President of Moldova Vladimir Voronin reportedly following protests from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union and the United States.[7] Thus, to this day, Russia maintains its military presence in Transnistria and in the ammunition depot, with Russia having been accused of using the latter as a method of geopolitical blackmail against Moldova.[6]

Moldova continues to insist on the need to evacuate the weapons from Cobasna, with recent official declarations coming from the current President of Moldova Maia Sandu.[8] On 11 August 2021, Sandu met with the then Deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak and discussed several important issues in the bilateral relations between both countries, including the Transnistria conflict and the situation of the Cobasna ammunition depot. Regarding the latter, Kozak showed willingness to cooperate with Moldova to destroy the weapons at the depot and declared that it was within Russia's interests to do this. The then President of Transnistria, Vadim Krasnoselsky, also expressed support to the initiative.[9]

On 27 April 2022, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Transnistria reported that drones flew over Cobasna and that shots were fired on the village. The ministry claimed that the drones came from Ukraine. Several attacks had recently occurred in Transnistria at the time.[10] They occurred during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and may have been a false flag operation by Russia or Transnistria itself.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Российская армия в Приднестровье". Yablor (in Russian). 28 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Dulgher, Maria (9 August 2020). "The Russian ammunition depot from Cobasna discussed against the backdrop of the Beirut explosion".
  3. ^ a b c Ciochină, Simion; Schwartz, Robert (1 December 2015). "Transnistria's explosive inheritance from the Soviet era". Deutsche Welle.
  4. ^ Ciochină, Simion (27 November 2015). "Cel mai mare depozit ilegal de arme din Europa de Est". Deutsche Welle (in Romanian).
  5. ^ "На российском военном складе в Приднестровье ежедневно проводится инвентаризация и проверка безопасности" (in Russian). REGNUM News Agency. 10 December 2008.
  6. ^ a b "Depozitul militar cât "o bombă atomică de 10 tone" cu care Moscova menține separatismul în Rep. Moldova". Digi24 (in Romanian). 21 July 2017.
  7. ^ Smith, Pamela Hyde (March 2005). "Moldova Matters: Why Progress is Still Possible on Ukraine's Southwestern Flank" (PDF). Atlantic Council. p. 8.
  8. ^ "Maia Sandu insistă pe retragerea trupelor ruse din Transnistria, dar și evacuarea armamentului din Cobasna". Național 4 (in Romanian). 23 June 2021.
  9. ^ Necșuțu, Mădălin (12 August 2021). "Russia and Moldova agree to resume trade, destroy ammunition". Balkan Insight.
  10. ^ "Moldova's separatist Transdniester claims 'drones seen, shots fired' near huge ammo depot". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 27 April 2022.
  11. ^ "Possible 'false flag' attacks in separatist Moldovan region of Transnistria raises concerns Russia plans to expand conflict". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 April 2022.

47°45′44″N 29°12′18″E / 47.7621°N 29.2050°E / 47.7621; 29.2050