Preparing for a Meeting between Maia Sandu and Vladimir Putin?

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In addition to discussing a wide range of issues, including politics, trade and security, today's visit of Dmitry Kozak to Moldova may have another important goal, i.e. preparing a meeting of two presidents.
Sergey CHEBAN, RTA: Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration announced a visit to Chisinau by the Deputy Head of the Russian President Office Dmitry Kozak to discuss priority issues of bilateral cooperation. As you know, in addition to his main position since 2018, Dmitry Kozak is also the special representative of the Russian leader for the development of trade and economic relations with the Republic of Moldova. The message about the planned trip appeared the very next day after the meeting of the newly appointed Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu with the Russian Ambassador to Moldova Oleg Vasnetsov. At the same time, the Russian media claim that Kozak will arrive in the Moldovan capital precisely at the president’s invitation. By the way, last week Maia Sandu already announced that Chisinau needs to start restoring dialogue with Moscow as soon as possible, adding that it will be conducted at the level of governments and, possibly, the leaders of the two countries. The experts considered it an additional gesture of courtesy that the head of state decided to publicly reconfirm the meeting with the Russian official during yesterday's media briefing. The near-Kremlin circles, back in 2019, discussed that Kozak and Sandu had developed quite a business relationship during the period of the well-known “revolutionary” events, when it became clear that the Kremlin emissary was able to quite pragmatically perceive the Moldovan internal political reality and negotiate taking into account the interests of his vis-a-vis. About a month ago, Maia Sandu already signaled in her interview to one of the Russian media about her desire to start communicating with the Russian leadership and, most likely, received a corresponding response from the administration of Vladimir Putin. In addition, the Russian positive decision was clearly facilitated by a relatively calm media background, very moderate statements by the PAS during the election campaign, and, in general, the absence of harsh and provocative statements on Moscow from the camp of the new authorities. Earlier, I have already touched upon the prospects of Moldovan-Russian relations in the new ambience, so we can make some assumptions about what exactly Dmitry Kozak will talk about with the leadership of the republic. Commenting on the upcoming visit, the President focused on the fact that the meeting will be attended by Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu and Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Vlad Kulminsky, who, according to experts, are key figures in Maia Sandu's circle with regard to foreign policy issues. Therefore, most likely, they formed the “route list” of the upcoming negotiations. Political agenda. Here, interlocutors will talk in general about the future of relations between the two countries, which have long ago reached their critical limit. Considering that the PAS, one way or another, is serious and for a long time, Moscow and Chisinau have an opportunity to determine the parameters of dialogue for a longer period. After the recall of the Moldovan ambassador from Moscow and depending on the results of the negotiations in Chisinau in the future, the parties, apparently, will determine the optimal nominees for heads of diplomatic missions, which will correspond to the level of relations and plans for their development. Trade and economics. One of the key issues in this area is the simplified access of Moldovan products to the Russian market. As you know, the Russian Government did not extend the zero duty on the import of several food products from Moldova, which resulted in additional fiscal burdens for our agrarians from April 1, 2021. The gas supply and the expected 30% rise in the price of energy resources for Moldovan consumers this autumn are not less important issues. Despite the fact that Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita suggests literal perception of the nowadays rise in prices for energy resources on international market, it should not be ruled out that Russia may meet halfway with the new Moldovan Cabinet. Especially if Chisinau is ready to refrain from accusatory ultimatum rhetoric, as well as to show rational and predictable relations with Moscow. Security issues. The Transdniestrian settlement is perhaps the central issue in this area, since it encloses the political, military, economic, energy and environmental security of our country. Each facet of this voluminous problem has its own complexity, therefore it requires a professional and patient attitude, as well as a willingness to long and painstaking work. Nevertheless, the results of visits paid by Sergei Shoigu to Chisinau and Nika Popescu to Moscow in 2019 afford ground to potential talks on security issues. Most likely, Dmitry Kozak will not miss the issue of supporting political forces, which currently enjoy the status of the parliamentary opposition. However, according to some information, the Communist and Socialist bloc faces lately certain discrepancies. So, perhaps one task of the Kremlin representative will be to stabilize the situation on the left flank and consolidate the opposition camp. One way or another, but the question of why the new government and Maia Sandu personally, having deceived the expectations of voters and the civil society, suddenly decided to accept the Deputy Head of the Russian President Office among the first visitors, continues to excite the interested public. Apparently, the advisers of the head of state convinced her that the first steps in constructing the “New Moldova” should be taken in the direction of actually the most difficult and problematic foreign policy area. All signals and gestures addressed by the Moldovan leadership to the Kremlin suggests that the main goal is still to hold a meeting with the Russian leader, since no one else is able to influence the further fate of Moldovan-Russian relations. In addition, Moscow, which everyone had doomed to a final and irrevocable loss in Moldova, was invited to be the first to establish a dialogue with the new political leadership in Chisinau and to recover thereby its position. Therefore, the mission of the Russian representative at the level of Dmitry Kozak gives reason to believe that personal meeting at the level of the two presidents has quite good chance.