Crises on the Borders of Moldova: Lots of Work to Be Done

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Vladimir ROTARI
In the near future, the authorities will have to deal with crisis management on an unprecedented scale
What started on the territory of a neighboring country this night is still difficult to somewhat realistically analyse. It remains to be seen what plans Moscow is actually hatching, having decided to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The news is now arriving at an extreme pace, and commenting in such conditions is completely useless. Especially when both warring parties fill the information space with tons of fakes. What is clear for sure: this night, the Russian armed forces launched a series of missile strikes on key military facilities of Ukraine: armament depots, air defense systems, airfields, etc. Moreover, the geography of these strikes included almost the entire Ukrainian territory – from Lutsk to Mariupol. These strikes do not stop, at the same time fierce fighting is underway in the south-east of Ukraine. Whatever happens next, today’s events will radically change the entire region’s landscape. The fate of Ukraine itself is unclear, which, obviously, without external help is unlikely to be able to push back the Russian attack. It is quite possible that soon the neighboring state will cease to exist as we all knew it until today. Anyway, we are all primarily interested in how exactly these tragic – and I can’t call them anything else – events will affect our country. The Moldovan authorities reacted quickly enough to what was happening: in the morning Maia Sandu convened the Supreme Security Council and a couple of hours later announced its results at a briefing. It is clear that our president joined the Western community in interpreting the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, condemning Moscow for “this act of war”. She also announced the first decisions: a request to the parliament on the introduction of a state of emergency in the country, the convening of an Emergency Commission to deal with incoming refugees, and increased patrolling by the Interior Ministry. Later it became known that the Information and Security Service introduced a yellow code of terrorist threat, and the country’s airspace is closed until March 4. In these and subsequent days, super efforts will be required from the leadership in order to effectively and correctly administer a whole bunch of processes caused by the Ukrainian conflict. So far, everything has been very sad with crisis management at PAS, but right now is the moment when it is necessary to finally mobilize, and do real things instead of building an “autocratic” regime. The events on our borders will generate a ton of problems, some of which have already appeared today. The first and most obvious is migration. The President announced Moldova’s willingness to accept several tens of thousands of refugees, but perhaps this is not the limit – after all, only in the first half of today about two thousand people entered the country from the eastern border. To manage such a huge migration flow by the standards of our country, its entire bureaucratic system will have to work a whole lot harder. First of all, it is necessary to attract funding from the European Union and international organizations so that these expenses do not become an unbearable burden for our meager state treasury. It is important to stop any corruption in this matter as much as possible, as well as to strengthen border control. Migration will certainly trigger tension in Moldovan society and lots of problems with legal order and security, especially considering that there may certainly be “radical elements” among those who will enter. This probably underlies the Information and Security Service’s logical decision to increase the level of terrorist danger. Here, again, it is necessary to establish control over the arrivals, tighten security at their places of accommodation, raise awareness among both refugees and our population. There is another point worth keeping in mind. Given the threats already voiced by the Russian president, it cannot be ruled out that Russia may request the extradition of persons as part of the announced “denazification” or assistance in their search on the territory of Moldova. It’s time to start thinking what our answer will be. Right now, the disseminated fakes about the left bank, alleging that aviation and missiles are launched from there, pose another major threat (neither of which, as far as we know, is at the disposal of the region’s armed forces). It is highly probable that such “stories” will continue to pop up, taking into account the Russian military group deployed in Transdniestria. The authorities have already dispelled these rumors and should do so in the future, so as not to let the republic be in any way linked to the current conflict at our borders. The next goals imply a longer term. First, to develop a truly balanced foreign policy course with a focus on neutrality. No matter how our authorities are in solidarity with Ukraine and Western partners, under no circumstances should they escalate the situation in Russian-Moldovan relations, which are far from being excellent after the July elections. The doors to the east shouldn’t be closed, otherwise you might face similar consequences as can be witnessed today. Secondly, we need to prepare for the fact that in the future a slightly different state will appear in the east – it may be Ukraine within its current borders (naturally, without Crimea and the “LDPR”) but with a “pro-Russian” regime, which the West will refuse to recognize, or some new formations at all, like a galaxy of “people’s republics” or “Novorossiya” (New Russia), should Ukraine collapse into several states. As a result, a completely different reality will emerge, in which such complex tasks as, for example, the transit of gas and goods will have to be solved, and we might have to choose between economic expediency and the prospect of violating Western sanctions. Finally, in no way should the internal situation be destabilized. The state of emergency will embolden the regime, already imposing censorship and suppressing dissent. Some of our figures, not quite adequate, already voice calls to almost sever relations with Moscow, or even to attack. It is necessary to suppress this anti-Russian hysteria, and in no case try to take advantage of the situation to engage in internal cleansing from politicians and parties seeking normal relations with Russia. The border factor in our case will no longer work – Russia in fact reaches our borders. In any case, whatever happens next, one thing is clear – there is a lot of work to be done in the near future.