On June 28, Ukraine will celebrate anniversary of its Constitution in a very difficult historical period for the Ukrainian state, when the constitutional space of the country and sovereign borders in places are frankly conditional. Ukraine celebrates the 23rd anniversary of the basic law of the country with territorial and border problems around its perimeter.
Since the Russian-Ukrainian conflict entered an acute phase, Kyiv has hastily adopted a number of fundamental political decisions to protect the territorial integrity of the country as much as possible and to stop threats from neighboring territories. One of the areas was the Transdniestrian segment of the border with the Republic of Moldova, relations with which have become unprecedentedly great and demonstratively friendly over the past five years.
The rapid warming between Kyiv and Chisinau was due to the joint struggle of the two countries with the Russian threat and the confrontation with the Kremlin in the international arena. Supposedly, Moscow plays a crucial role in the settlement of conflicts both in Donbas and Transdniestria. Moldova and Ukraine began to regularly coordinate positions and spoke with one voice on a wide range of issues of regional and international policy. Thanks to this, Chisinau and Kyiv managed to solve many historical problems of bilateral relations and launch a number of important projects in the field of security, primarily by launching data exchange and joint control at the border. The first joint posts were put on the previously uncontrolled by Chisinau Transdniestrian section of the border.
2019 was supposed to be the apogee of friendship and mutual understanding between the leadership of Ukraine and Moldova: those who came to power in both countries in 2014 ensured the breakthrough in relations. Ironically, these politicians were forced to leave the political stage in Moldova and Ukraine in 2019, leaving all their achievements to their successors. In this context, it is reasonable to ask whether Chisinau and Kyiv – and, above all, Moldovan politicians – will be able to maintain the previous level of relations, which defines implementation of a huge part of national agenda in 2019.
Most likely, the Moldovan-Ukrainian contacts will no longer be the same. Relations between the countries will definitely survive the adjustment, at least because the political system of Moldova almost forcibly, under direct pressure from the US, EU and Russia incorporated a strong pro-Russian factor via the Party of Socialists and President Igor Dodon. The latter in today’s realities are actively involved in the redistribution of power resources, consistently strengthening their political positions.
There is every reason to believe that Kyiv was particularly wary of the ruling coalition’s decision to give Igor Dodon control over the key security agencies, in particular the SIS, which took the bulk of measures to neutralize the Russian factor in the region and filter Russian citizens on the state border.
The first signals of ‘winter’ in relations between the two countries came from the PACE sidelines. Kyiv must have found it a very unfriendly step when Moldova voted in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in favor of the return of powers to the Russian delegation, which it was deprived of 5 years ago due to the well-known events in the Crimea and Ukraine. Apparently, the current Moldovan authorities can give many more surprises in relation to Ukraine, however, even today Kyiv has a good reason to reconsider its positions in relations with Chisinau. Perhaps Ukraine will try to regroup on the Moldovan track, and with very painful consequences for Chisinau.
Taking into account the possible easing for Russian citizens, who are very much expected in Moscow from the new leadership of Moldova, the first thing we should expect is the tightening of the border regime on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. At the same time, the risk increases that Kyiv will defrost plans for the construction of six cascade hydroelectric power stations on the Dniester river, will return armed formations at the Transdniestrian section of the border, as well as place on hold the project for joint customs and border control. Most likely, in the near future, Kyiv will not receive one hundred percent guarantees that the Moldovan security forces affiliated with the Russian security forces will not enter the territory of Ukraine. Moreover, such a scenario does not seem fantastic in the context of the obvious influence of Moscow on President Dodon, who took over the Security and Intelligence Service.
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