NATO Is Working Actively to Strengthen Its Eastern Borders. What Role Will Be Assigned to Moldova?

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Vladimir ROTAR Amid the confrontation with Russia, the Alliance is about to significantly increase its military presence on the eastern borders, including in the Black Sea region Joseph Biden entering the Oval Office marked a dramatic turn in American foreign policy. Even at the level of declarations, the United States is about to stop its attempts to tackle internal affairs only, again taking on the task to care about the Western world security and countering the growing threats from China and the United States. "America is back. I speak today as President of the United States at the very start of my administration, and I’m sending a clear message to the world: America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back. And we are looking forward, together. The United States will work closely with our European Union partners to meet the range of shared challenges we face," Biden said during his speech at the Munich Security Conference. NATO will naturally become a key tool in building a mechanism to contain Washington's geopolitical competitors. The organization's internal unity was shattered during the presidency of Donald Trump, therefore, as sources say, restoring trust from the European allies is a top priority for the White House. The diplomatic efforts are synchronized with the ideological ones: the Alliance has already announced a new strategic concept that will redirect the member states to oppose Russia and China, as well as to strengthen ties between Europe and North America. As part of the confrontation with Moscow, NATO is actively enhancing its forces on the eastern flank. Its Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, noted that the Alliance had recently significantly increased its presence on its eastern borders, including the Baltic and Black Sea regions. In addition, in February he announced an increased funding for military containment and defense activities in these areas, which he said would "support the deployment of allied forces in our battle groups on the eastern flank, the air police deployment, naval deployment and exercises." In current conditions, no thaw in relations between the West and Russia can be expected. On the contrary, the confrontation is ratcheting up: the US media created hysteria around the story with Russian hacker attacks on the US government systems (defined as almost the biggest in recent years) - in response, judging by the American media insiders, Washington is preparing a proportionate attack on Russian resources. Although there is no talk yet about a direct military clash between the two powers (the intensity of the confrontation is still not high enough to allow an exchange of nuclear strikes), a trial of strength within one or more proxy conflicts in the Eastern European countries is highly possible. For example, in Ukraine, which the United States has actively supplied (and is supplying) with weapons worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Notably that the situation in Donbass has significantly aggravated recently. Both sides of the demarcation line are already talking about an imminent large-scale clash of the 2014-2015 model. This is partly confirmed by numerous evident of redeployed mechanized units to the east of the country, and the simultaneous purge of opposition political forces and the media in Ukraine. The meaning of a possible Donbass conflict escalation is clear - to test Moscow's operational capabilities and its basic ability and moral readiness to respond financially (and perhaps even "militarily") to a direct threat to the LDPR. Moldova can serve as a similar "test ball". It is only at first glance that our country, compared to its neighbor, can feel more or less calm. In fact, it has long been on the way of integrating into the European collective security system, even if it is not formally a member of the North Atlantic Alliance. After all, the first Moldova-NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) was approved back in 2006. Such a document is considered the third cooperation level within the bilateral interaction and reflects specific measures to integrate the partner state's power sector into NATO. Now, as you know, the new IPAP draft for 2021-2023 is pending adoption. This is an integrated document that prescribes a whole range of obligations for the republic, notably - in most areas of national life, from economy to justice. Great emphasis is certainly made on the defense and security segments. In general, the new Plan contains many interesting and thought-provoking points. For example, Chisinau, among other things, undertakes to implement the Wales and Warsaw NATO summit decisions (in fact, aimed at containing Russia) and further facilitate the rapid and complete withdrawal of Russian troops "illegally located in the country." It also mentions the possibility to transform the current peacekeeping operation on the Dniester into a multinational civilian mission with an international mandate, as well as evacuation (destruction) of ammunition stocks in Cobasna. The adoption of the plan has so far been postponed due to the ongoing internal political uncertainty, but there is no doubt that Chisinau will be definitely "brought back" to this issue after the situation normalizes. The fact that Washington attaches great importance to strengthening the republic's defense capability and the Moldovan vector in general is confirmed by the fact (actually, unprecedented) of appointing US expert advisor Karen Bonaby to assist the Transformation Department of the Moldovan Defense Ministry. Among other things, she will help continue reforming the National Army in line with the NATO standards, coordinate the Ministry's relationship with the United States, monitor the Washington funds spending and implementation of Chisinau's obligations under existing agreements, including the above-mentioned Action Plan. That is, in fact, the United States will almost manually control all processes related to the Moldovan armed forces modernization. Such attention is clear. The Russian resources deterioration tactics can be well applied also on the territory of our country, where the Kremlin has a group of troops in an extremely vulnerable position, and it will be very difficult to provide assistance. Yes, constitutionally Moldova is a neutral state, but in reality this status has practically never been observed. The authorities have been closely cooperating with NATO for many years, making a considerable military-economic and political profit. Now, this might backfire, because, given the new Cold War gathering pace, the time for Chisinau to "pay the bills" may come very soon.