Expert: Moldova Will not Remain Neutral in the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict

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Base on a series of statements by the country’s leadership, if the regional situation aggravates any further, Moldova will act in solidarity with its neighbors - Ukraine and Romania, as well as Western partners
Sergiu CEBAN, RTA: Yesterday, the United States and NATO officially submitted written responses to the Kremlin’s proposals on guarantees of non-expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance to the east and the start of negotiations on European security. The Western partners asked not to make the contents of these documents public. Therefore, it is still difficult to say whether there are any chances to resolve the crisis diplomatically, or the likelihood of a military conflict will grow. The main focus is still on Ukraine, and the military, psychological, diplomatic, informational and economic overstrain around our neighbors is created by the West as well as by Moscow. Several countries, including the United States, have already asked their citizens and diplomats to leave Ukrainian territory, implying that there is reliable intelligence about the non-zero probability of an invasion by Russian troops. The regional situation has become so “tense” that even our republic’s leadership has to comment on it. Yesterday’s statements by the President confirmed that the authorities are fully aware of the situation complexity and are forced not only to react, but also to prepare in advance for various scenarios. According to Maia Sandu, if we analyze the rhetoric at the level of countries and international institutions, the risk of an armed conflict is very high. At the same time, the head of state urged citizens not to let the news cause panic. Moldova, in her opinion, is really vulnerable in many areas, and the consequences of a possible conflict in Ukraine will be very severe for our country as well. However, some plans are already at the development stage so that the authorities act in a coordinated manner, depending on a particular situation. Unfortunately, there are no “happy-end” scenarios for Moldova being the epicenter of the European part of the post-Soviet region, around which the conflict is unfolding. Whatever the events, they will affect our country and, perhaps, not in the best way. Therefore, experts have been asking the president, the parliament and the government for the second month to pay the closest attention to the looming inevitability in order to minimize the negative consequences of a possible military crisis or a US-Russian “détente”, which may primarily be at the expense of post-Soviet states. The highest levels of power probably understand this. Several signs indicate that a series of closed events were held in December-January to analyze and assess current regional threats of a military nature. Also the procedure for actions in case of a sharp decline of the situation and the armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia must have been developed. One of the results of this “top level concilium” was a new series of thematic statements by the country’s leadership. By the way, it was preceded by the visit of Moldova’s Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu to Brussels, where various consultations must have taken place along with informing the North Atlantic Alliance about the measures that Chisinau plans to implement in case of an aggravation. Such a step seems to be as reasoned as possible, since in the event of an armed conflict, Moldova can count solely on the support of the alliance or its individual member – Romania. Upon his return, Nicu Popescu noted on a joint press conference with Natalia Gavrilita that even if the regional situation does not directly concern Moldova, the republic’s voice should still be heard amid large negotiations between Western countries and Russia. Therefore, he brought Chisinau’s stance at various meetings in Brussels, emphasizing that the country’s free choice of a way to ensure its security cannot be negotiated by other states. At the same time, Gavrilita and Popescu expressed concern about the “military exercises” in the Transnistrian region, which add calm to neither Moldova nor Ukraine. Nevertheless, no matter what the circumstances, according to the Prime Minister, the government is ready to respond to absolutely any development of events to protect national interests. We can alco recall Head of the Information and Security Service Alexander Esaulenco’s interview, which appeared in one of the well-known Ukrainian publications, considering that he very rarely communicates with the press. The head of the special service said that the agency is closely monitoring the situation in the region and, given the high level of Russian troops concentration near the Ukrainian border, Moldova has intensified cooperation with Kiev, regularly exchanging information. Taking into account the increasing risks, according to Esaulenco, such contacts will only become more frequent. The head of the SIS did not ignore the military threats from the left bank. According to him, “illegal military formations”, including the OGRF, located on the territory of the Transnistrian region, have strengthened the protection of military infrastructure facilities, including ammunition depots in Cobasna. Commenting on the development of Russia’s military actions, which implies the advance of Russian troops to Transnistria along the southern territories of Ukraine, Esaulenco stressed that eastern neighbors should not be underestimated. The head of the intelligence agency did not disclose our country’s plans in detail, but made a reservation that his service would be “very actively” involved in certain processes to counter the current threats. Moreover, based on the possible risks in the event of a conflict escalation, Chisinau intends to help its allies cope with various situations and, first of all, with a possible wave of refugees. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, during a press conference after giving Moscow a response to security requirements, called on Russia to withdraw its troops, including from the territory of Moldova. It’s a very important signal confirming the indisputable truth: if our country really wants the Western partners’ support, it will receive it. Of fundamental importance is the fact that, judging by our leadership’s and relevant departments’ statements, Moldova has no plan to adhere to a neutral position, but will act jointly and uniformly with its neighbors – Ukraine and Romania, as well as the strategic partners.