Are Moldova and Georgia Next?

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Sergiu CEBAN
We need to be prepared for any scenario right away, including the worst one – a political ultimatum
For the second day in a row, military events on the territory of Ukraine are causing deep concern and fear. There is no doubt, whatever the Russian-Ukrainian conflict developments, our country will be affected in any case. Only the first wave of Ukrainian refugees who entered Moldova in less than 48 hours amounted to more than 15 thousand people. Meanwhile, Maia Sandu has already assured that all possible assistance will be provided to the refugees. Despite the appeasing statements of our authorities and calls not to give in to panic, the closed airspace over the country and a number of other negative factors forced some citizens to follow their own considerations about personal safety. Therefore, by yesterday evening, the Moldovan-Romanian border witnessed the first congestion which caused a chain reaction and increased panic among the population. The situation on the energy market also leaves no room for optimism. The rising oil and gas prices are likely to trigger further difficulties in the country’s energy sector, and even the most experienced expert will not undertake to predict Moscow’s actions now. Therefore, the number of challenges and risks for our country will increase dramatically in the near future and will become one of the most serious tests of strength for our statehood. Meanwhile, late last night, when the Speaker of the Parliament Igor Grosu had safely arrived in the country, the legislative body held a meeting. All the deputies who were present unanimously supported the government’s proposal to introduce a 60-day state of emergency. This provides the Cabinet with ample opportunities. In particular, to introduce a special regime for entry, exit, and movement inside the republic, to evacuate citizens from high risk areas, to introduce special conditions for economic activity, to suspend gas, electricity and drinking water supplies, to coordinate the work of media, to requisition property, etc. It is clear that all the attention of world leaders is focused on the events in Ukraine, and the Western world, through the American president, has clearly outlined a red line which the United States has no intention to cross. This is about the Euro-Atlantic space, within which Washington and its allies will take the necessary measures to protect both individual countries and the collective interests of the entire alliance. Since Moldova is not a NATO member, it is in almost the same risk zone as Ukraine but with much worse positions, practically unable to somehow resist the onslaught of Moscow and its armed forces which are already on the territory of the left bank. Based on yesterday’s statements by the American president about Putin’s intention to restore the USSR, it is impossible to exclude the possibility that our country will be the next after Ukraine. This may explain the President’s attempts to draw international attention to potential threats to Moldova. Contacts with Western partners have started. Last night, Maia Sandu spoke with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, discussing aggressive actions against Ukraine, as well as their impact on Moldova. The European Representative assured that Brussels will support Chisinau, including by providing assistance to combat the consequences of the unfolding crisis. Bucharest, on which our authorities pin special hopes in providing operational assistance, is still mainly focused on itself, since it is also in direct contact with what is happening on Ukrainian territory. In addition, the main factor constraining Romania’s actions and forcing it to focus on these signals is Washington’s position that it does not plan to cross the territorial borders of the North Atlantic Alliance. Former Romanian President Traian Basescu, of course, made an emotional statement that if he were a Moldovan politician, he would immediately demand the unification of the two banks of the Prut, because, in his opinion, this could be a solution for Chisinau in this difficult and tense period. However, apparently, this idea is not quite realistic yet, despite the fact that the geopolitical situation in Europe is changing dramatically and rapidly right before our eyes. Another signal for our country was the call of Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu. During a special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, he condemned the military aggression against Ukraine and reaffirmed the importance of continuing support for Moldova and Georgia, which are under Russia’s pressure. Still, “beautiful words” are hardly convincing if we look at the experience of Ukraine, which at a crucial moment, according to Volodymyr Zelensky, “was abandoned” in the face of a Russian attack. Therefore, today Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili hastened to declare that his country will not join the financial and economic sanctions of the West against Russia, as this could harm national interests and the interests of the people. Most likely, Tbilisi understands that Moscow is determined and can act militarily against those post-Soviet states that threaten its security, wanting to become allies of the West. Therefore, it should not be ruled out that in the current circumstances the Kremlin may put before Georgia the issue of reaching agreements with its former regions – Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in order to finally close this issue. There is no doubt that our leadership is aware that what is happening in the region cannot but affect Moldova, especially in the Transdniestrian dimension. If Russia has set itself the task of closing all territorial conflicts as quickly as possible, covering the maximum possible territory of the former USSR, then we already must be ready for any scenario, including the worst one– a political ultimatum.