The Geopolitical Flavor of Moldovan Elections

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Vladimir ROTAR It is geopolitics that comes once again to the fore in the electoral Moldovan campaign. International partners’ increased activity, as well as resonant statements coming from prominent (and not very prominent) officials such as John Bolton only add fuel to the fire. The electoral campaign is gaining momentum in Moldova. One of its main trends is integrating the ideologically similar forces into larger formations. Thus, within the framework of the bloc that bears his name, Renato Usatii consolidates his supporters, trying with grief to put together a single bloc under the (AUR) Alliance for the Unification of Romanians’ banners. And the most notable project of this kind was of course, the socialists – communists alliance. While elections’ framing and characters do undergo changes from one electoral cycle to another, their semantic content is what remains unchanged. This is, of course, the notorious geopolitical agenda which again rushes to the fore. Apparently, having no better ideas (the key participants in the campaign have all the recipes for republic’s development which is one way or another based on massive aid from abroad), some begin to disperse anti-Western sentiments and others fully talk about the delights of European integration. However, it is untrue if stating that geopolitics in current elections appeared out of thin air. Even a cursory glance at the current processes reveals a sharply increased activity of international partners, primarily Western ones, which clearly goes beyond the framework of traditional interstate cooperation. As always, the US Ambassador Derek Hogan is extremely active. His regular meetings not only with the leadership of our country or with those of other parties participating in the elections but also with the CEC, for example, raise questions. The head of the EU delegation Peter Michalko is trying to keep up with his American counterpart, whilst simultaneously focusing on huge amounts of financial assistance provided by the EU to our country. Even elections are still far away, the Romanian Foreign Ministry has already managed to express itself. Romanian chief diplomat Bogdan Aurescu expressed the hope that they will be held "transparently and correctly" and immediately expressed sympathy for President Maia Sandu, her team and her program, so that Moldovan voters do not get confused about whom they will need to vote on July 11 for. It is not surprising that the leaders of the newly minted PSRM-PCRM left bloc - the main enemy of the pro-Western PAS - began to promote the topic of defending Moldova's sovereignty and statehood almost in unison. “Those who promoted the current president to win the elections want to take control of the parliament and government. I'm talking about the West. The European Union and the United States did everything they could to ensure that we got the results we got in those elections. The country is in danger indeed. If we do not stop this attempt to seize state institutions and structures, we will lose the state,” Igor Dodon warns. He is echoed by Vladimir Voronin, repeating about "NATO soldiers" in Moldova and the danger of losing neutrality and independence. John Bolton’s article (Donald Trump's former adviser) that has been circulating for a while in the Moldovan media (especially out of the socialist media network) did ideally lay on the already warmed-up soil. If more precisely, there’s a quote from it concerning Moldova and the Transdniestrian conflict: “Moldova, squeezed between Ukraine and Romania, is a frozen conflict ready to be “unfrozen”. The supposedly independent Transdniestria, invented by Russia, exists apart from Moldova only thanks to Moscow's continued military presence. Merely drawing global attention to this post-Cold War anomaly would shock the Kremlin, while the determined new government in Chisinau is now giving Washington an opportunity to get its actions activated.” Such a thought, expressed by one of the prominent US political figures in recent years, was of course, instantly used for electoral purposes against Maia Sandu (and of course, her party) who had already been accused of trying to unfreeze the Transdniestrian conflict. Let's try analyze this statement without no pre-election husk. John Bolton is a specific character in American politics, one of the so-called "hawks" and a supporter of straightforward methods, mainly of a forceful nature. He clearly did not quite fit in with the previous American president, who despite his belligerent rhetoric, in fact tried to avoid military decisions and used his adviser mainly as a kind of "scarecrow" for the most obstinate partners. However, after Bolton has thwarted agreements with the Taliban and after he has made persistent attempts to unleash an armed conflict with Iran, this "war man" got removed from the White House. Bolton's opinion is a reflection of the first of all most radical wing of the American politics thinking and cannot be considered a universal cut for the mood prevailing in the military-political circles of Washington. On the other hand, taking into account the current geopolitical situation, the hawks’ positions have noticeable tendencies to strengthen. The new Cold War is no longer a theoretical concept - it is yet a reality. In the future, it will mainly be focused along the line of confrontation between Washington and Beijing, but for now the focus of international attention lays on the Russian-American front. In the context of an intensifying confrontation between the two powers, the White House, as can be seen from the new American administration’s actions is returning to the idea of creating and strengthening around Russia a belt of containment consisting of unfriendly states. Moldova in this sense, despite its objectively low military-political potential, is also of considerable interest, mainly due to the unresolved conflict with the left-bank territories and the Russian troops stationed there. The latter are an extremely convenient target, vulnerable both due to the small size of the group itself and the objective difficulties in providing it with operational and tactical assistance. Earlier, there was no consensus among American strategists and analysts regarding the Russian contingent in Moldova. Thus, one of the influential RAND’s reports recommended not to facilitate removing this group from Moldovan territory, since its very presence, firstly, does not pose any essential threat and secondly, it depletes Russian resources and limits the Russian Federation’s potential in others directions. However, there are alternative points of view on this score, one of which Bolton has frankly stated. At the same time, fears that previously radical scenarios might no longer be considered as such and be taken into development, in the light of current realities, cannot be considered unfounded. Especially if looking at the active militarization of the Black Sea region on both sides. Will Moldova be able to effectively resist outside attempts to unfreeze the conflict on its territory, if there’s actually any? Well, seems less probable. Sovereignty and genuine independence, that the left parties are now talking about to preserve, have in fact long been largely ephemeral. Our country is tightly on external funding’s needle (since its development, and just a stable existence is practically impossible without) and is tightly tied to the processes of integration into a single Euro-Atlantic front. Being an object, not a subject of international politics, it will be daunting for Chisinau to change this state of things. We can only hope that the positions of conventional "boltons" will not prevail in the American establishment in the near future whilst a relaxation of relations between the leading world powers is not far off. As to the latter, it is frankly a thing hard to believe in.