Will American Policy in Moldova Change?

Sergiu CEBAN

Events in Washington has rocked not only the United States but the whole world prompting speculation about possible future changes both for the US and the countries under the American influence

Last week’s events in Washington hit the headlines when the Congress building on Capitol Hill which hosted a joint meeting of the two houses of parliament to ratify the presidential election results was seized. For the United States, this is an extraordinary phenomenon that will be a topic for expert comments in the weeks ahead, but already today some experts argue that these developments have triggered serious transformations inside the country, which will consequently affect the outside world.

Different ensuing storylines have shown that the global transnational companies and IT giants are becoming more assertive and confident as an influential factor in the country’s domestic life. Previously, it seemed that only the Moldovan Constitutional Court can “deactivate” the head of state, now we have an example of how major American communication networks can drive the very US president into a blank information isolation.

Meantime, the already available cautious forecasts tell how exactly the US internal situation and the change of the president will affect the White House’s foreign policy. In particular, there is an opinion that Joe Biden personally will try to stay away from the Ukrainian issue, which almost cost him his election win. Nevertheless, many analysts are inclined to believe that the American administration’s new chief will continue the tough line on Moscow to contain its influence, as well as neutralize the Russian military and political factor in Moldova and in Eastern Ukraine.

Donald Trump was famously more inclined to a phased approach with the Kremlin in achieving certain agreed parameters of interaction in the post-Soviet space and working out possible agreements on various problem cases, the solution of which could lay the foundation for the future security and cooperation architecture in various CIS regions.

At the same time, the still incumbent American president did not miss the opportunity to step up his strategic advantage and strengthen the US defense potential on NATO’s eastern borders. In this regard, one of the US largest military groups was based in Poland, and the American air force in Romania is systematically reinforced, which is evidenced by the recent redeployment of US surveillance and reconnaissance strike drones to the Campia Turzii airbase to support NATO operations.

Washington’s main tactical task on the Moldovan track is apparently to bring matters to their logical conclusion, which means ensuring an acceptable result in the early parliamentary elections for Maia Sandu’s party and all pro-Western political forces that can appoint a government without Moscow-affiliated political formations. This fall, the current US Ambassador Dereck Hogan, who, according to experts, has had a decisive word on many home policy issues in Moldova (and played a key role in the 2019 summer events), completes his three-year tenure and therefore will start handing over affairs to his successor in summer.

The Moldovan officials predictably took a wait-and-see attitude and made no statements or assessments regarding the US internal developments. This suggests that Chisinau politicians clearly understand that continued Washington’s strong hold in the entire region, primarily in Bucharest and Kiev, is of great importance for the current Moldovan elites to retain their positions.

An important factor may be the offensive actions of the Kremlin which has already demonstrated its readiness to act independently in the Transcaucasian region. Developments around the Karabakh settlement proved to be very indicative, since Moscow has practically neutralized the OSCE Minsk Group and not only pushed through the ceasefire regime, but is currently preparing another package of bilateral agreements between Azerbaijan and Armenia as a follow-up of its success.

Such a “Moscow format of settlement” might have been similarly used to replace the fading 5+2 negotiation mechanism in the Transdniestrian issue. However, the circumstances resulting from Igor Dodon’s electoral defeat have apparently forced the Kremlin to put this idea on ice or adjust its tactical approaches to this long-standing problem.

As such, the power transition problem which has established in the United States by the beginning of the year came as a big surprise to many capitals, including Chisinau and Kiev, which are perhaps in the utmost uncertainty having no clear understanding of what the new American administration policy will be. Without regard for the White House, the presidents of Ukraine and Moldova will hardly be able to decide on any breakthrough decisions during the upcoming meeting.

On the other hand, there is every reason to believe that the US will continue strengthening its military-political capacity and influence in the Eastern European region, despite the changes in the American political elite and the current crisis. As for Moldova, a new round of geopolitical confrontation on its territory is inevitable, and early parliamentary elections will be its key element.