Moratorium on the past
How to reconcile the irreconcilable? Who will be the first to defy the usual confrontation logic between military and political blocs in Europe? Where will be security cooperation between the West and Russia first restored?
Until recently, no one would have thought to associate the answers to these questions with Moldova. However, the situation has changed dramatically on the night of June 7 to 8, and now the country has a government supported by Moscow, Washington and Brussels and ascended to ‘the throne’ with the active participation of all three capitals.
From the first days the ACUM and PSRM alliance announced a moratorium on geopolitics, which, of course, almost cannot observe. Coalition leaders cannot get rid of statements about “the only right way”, which is not surprising for people who have cultivated various geopolitical sentiments for many years. The moratorium acts more on the debate: the current leaders of Moldova do not seem to notice each other’s statements, carefully avoiding the controversy over the have-been, when they mercilessly divided the electorate into pro-Russian and pro-European. In 2019, Igor Dodon claims that he has never protested against the Association Agreement with the EU and does not criticize the European course of Moldova. Maia Sandu is extremely tactful and friendly with Russian officials, and Dmitry Kozak is clearly pleased with the communication with the new Prime Minister. A committed unionist and Russophobe Oazu Nantoi goes together with the speaker Greceanîi to meet with the Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev. Miracles? Scarcely.
Most likely, the potential of the agreements reached between the Russian Federation, the EU and the United States on resetting the domestic situation in Moldova is large enough for the leaders of the new government not to be distracted by controversy and to work in their areas. Everything is generally clear and understandable here. But it is not totally clear what the new government will do with the military-strategic course.
Positive sum game
The Minister of Defense Pavel Voicu appointed by Igor Dodon held his first meeting in this capacity with the Romanian Ambassador Daniel Ionita and thanked him for the contribution in training of the Moldovan national army and informed about his priorities as the head of the Defense Ministry. 100 soldiers of the national army of Moldova are sent to the exercises in the United States, and Maia Sandu in a recent interview with the POLITICO magazine talks about Moldova’s only possible way to the West and very openly calls on Russia to withdraw its troops from Transdniestria.
At the same time, Igor Dodon reports that he has agreed in Moscow to extend customs preferences for goods from Moldova to Russia. Again, we realize that a couple of weeks ago this could not be imagined. It can be assumed that the international handlers of the new government in Chisinau, as well as the ACUM and the socialists, agreed to turn a deaf ear to each other’s rhetoric. Moldova, apparently, will continue to move towards rapprochement with NATO, and Russia will maintain a military presence on the Dniester – and it seems that for the first time in many years these things are not in obvious contradiction.
Apparently, from the military strategic standpoint Moldova becomes the territory of the positive sum game with the largest centers of power entrenched in the country at the same time and consistently promoting their interests. In a sense, the neutrality of the Republic of Moldova receives a completely new interpretation: the neutral status of Moldova means that the country for a while ceases to be a territory of potential confrontation between the USA and Russia. In other words, today the Republic of Moldova as a territory and state is taken off the table of the military rivalry between Russia and the West – in Moldova the world capitals will concentrate on the search for the way of political cooperation. It is noteworthy that this situation fully satisfies the interests of Europe as the third main stakeholder in the ‘Moldovan case’. For the EU, the stability of borders and the predictability of the security situation are important. The bad balance of forces with Moldova nearly involved in NATO on the right bank of the Dniester and the Russian troops on the left quite suits Brussels apparently.
Some experts boldly, but for a reason suggest that the ‘big deal’ between Russia and the United States on European security has already taken place, although it was expected to be more tangible following a certain triumphant meeting between Putin and Trump. Agreements must have already been reached on the division of spheres of influence, taking off the table some regions of Europe, including Moldova and Ukraine. The latter has the role of another buffer zone between the military-political areas of the West and Russia, so Ukraine is likely to be ‘deactivated’ and go through serious changes in the settlement in Donbas.
Summing up, we remind that any fundamental change of confrontation rhetoric must not be expected. Certainly military maneuvers, saber rattling, ‘the exchange of courtesies’ and mutual attacks at the level of Russia, the European Union, NATO, as well as the leaders of Moldova and Ukraine will continue around the borders of the Black Sea to some extent. The rhetoric of confrontation is still a powerful ideological resource for the governments of the world powers, and it will continue. Perhaps the preservation of ‘ritual’ strategic competition in Europe will create comfortable conditions for the resumption of multilateral dialogue on security in Eastern Europe and the return to normal cooperation of geopolitical players.
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