Romanian Troops to Be Deployed in Moldova?

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Sergiu CEBAN
The authorities are looking for backups to ensure Moldova’s security in case the geopolitical struggle escalates in the post-Soviet space
The prospects for US-Russian negotiations on security guarantees, which have become this week’s major international topic, remain rather vague, if not worse. As expected, Washington and Moscow mostly exchange lists of clearly excessive and hardly feasible requirements at the meetings. It is not surprising that, based on public statements by representatives of the United States, Russia and NATO member countries, the probability of compromise is critically low. Today’s meeting of the Russia-NATO Council is likely to only enhance this impression. Still, the mere fact of Washington’s consent to Moscow’s request for negotiations, even despite its flatness, has already seriously scared the US’s junior partners who feared a potential deal between the two powers. Chisinau and Kiev were predictably horrified at the mere thought that the White House and the Kremlin would independently determine the status of the post-Soviet territories from the security point of view in such a way that Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia would either find themselves under Moscow’s influence or at least lose an explicit Euro-Atlantic perspective ending up stuck in a neutral buffer zone. In this regard, our experts began to voice various proposals that could prevent negative scenarios. The civil society has reminded of the last century’s experience, when the Moldovan elites chose to allow the Romanian army to stop the military revolutionary processes that swept the territory of the former Russian Empire, thus saving Bessarabia from being absorbed by the Soviet administration. Therefore, the idea of increasing military cooperation with Romania is much debated now in order to ensure reliable protection of the republic in case the situation between Ukraine and Russia aggravates. One should always bear in mind that the border of special geopolitical interests, which the Kremlin claims today, includes almost the entire territory of the post-Soviet region, that is, all the way to the Prut. If the NATO countries fail to find a consensus with Moscow and relations continue to deteriorate, then the overall situation in the region will shift to absolute unpredictability. While a few years ago another wave of Russian intervention in Ukraine seemed unlikely, now in the face of failed negotiations with the West, Russia may well decide on asymmetric tactics, and, for example, completely cut Ukraine off from the sea. Hybrid warfare may well be applied against our state, considering, among other things, the unresolved Transdniestrian conflict. Our country’s ability to cope with such risks on its own is practically nil. Therefore, after all the rules are violated and the processes of power control over the territories are launched, any extraordinary decisions will become reasonable. Therefore, our leadership really needs to start looking for backups to ensure Moldova’s security and put out a strong barrier against the “little green men” moving all the way to the Prut. Moreover, our politicians, as it can be seen, are alarmed by what is happening, and therefore they are attempting to somehow include Moldovan interests into the general debate about the European security architecture. Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu had a telephone conversation with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Joane, who had previously stated that any country has a fundamental right to decide which path to follow and which alliances to participate in. It was noted that the neutral status of our state does not mean isolation and disregard of national interests, and the need for the withdrawal of Russian troops was confirmed. According to Joane, the Alliance will include the positions of post-Soviet countries, including Moldova, in the general agenda of negotiations with Moscow. Сivil society representatives, experts and people of art are trying to show unity with the authorities. Last week they sent a collective appeal to US President Joe Biden, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and European Council President Charles Michel urging not to push Moldova into Russia’s sphere of influence, to facilitate the withdrawal of its troops from our territory, and to prevent Russia’s attempts to stop NATO’s expansion to the east. In this context, it is appropriate to recall that in 1995 Romania adopted the famous Snagov Declaration, signed by all fourteen major political parties that came out with a unified position in support for EU membership. As a result, our neighbors succeeded in achieving their national goals – NATO and the EU membership, as well as building a democratic society with a dynamically growing market economy. In the conditions of the maturing socio-political consensus, one should probably consider the adoption of a similar document at the level of the presidency, parliament, government, as well as other political parties and organizations, that would outline a clear foreign policy and geopolitical orientation of Moldova. Concurrently, it is worth starting to develop an effective scenario to ensure the republic’s security that would inter alia include provision of the direct military assistance by neighboring Romania. For the Romanian military contingent to be promptly deployed, there obviously must exist an appropriate legal framework on additional supplies or a common defense space and joint response to external threats. In this regard, the joint patrolling of the state border with Romania has long been practiced, and earlier this year an agreement was signed on the two countries’ traffic police functioning on highways in Moldova. Therefore, there are no obstacles for extending this kind of cooperation and starting the joint monitoring of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border with Romanian colleagues, as well as at the boundary with the security zone of the Transdniestrian conflict.