Moldova in the Glow of the Ukraine’s Fire

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The war at the Moldovan borders has overshadowed all the previously urgent problems that until recently dominated the socio-political life of the country
Sergiu CEBAN, RTA: The armed conflict in Ukraine has been going on for the fifth day. So far, there are no special reasons to believe that the parties are ready to stop the bloodshed and try to agree on something. The Russian military is orderly advancing deep into the neighboring state, taking control, according to Western media estimates, of about 15% of its territories. The negotiations proposed by the mediation of the Belarusian president between representatives of Moscow and Kyiv so far look more like an imitation than an intention to make real contact. I dive into the details yet that everything happening will inevitably lead to serious geopolitical shifts and a change in the current global picture. Of course, the regional situation will change dramatically forever. Whatever the outcome of the current military conflict, Ukraine, regardless of what territory it will cover, will be a completely different country in essence. Catastrophic events in the neighboring country will have long-term negative impact on Moldova as well. The whole set of risks is still hard to predict, but already today our country is experiencing a serious humanitarian challenge due to the influx of Ukraine’s refugees. As a result, Chisinau appealed to Romania and the European Union for help. Besides, one should understand that the fighting has not yet affected the Odessa region, but if this changes, the process of forced migration in our direction may become avalanche-like. The gravity of the situation is confirmed by Maia Sandu’s departure to the Otaci-Mohyliv-Podilskyi checkpoint to independently assess the situation on the spot and understand how the border authorities cope with the growing flow of people. In addition, the President visited Calaraseuca, where the Sorting Center for arriving Ukrainians is located. In addition to refugees, a temporary break in trade ties with Ukraine, as well as the fall of the Russian economy and the devaluation of the ruble under sanctions can cause serious damage to the Moldovan economy. Additional costs and a shortage of imports of individual products may result from the need to build alternative logistics routes for the delivery of goods. Since the signing of the Association Agreement, as well as the comprehensive free trade area with the European Union, we have refocused most of our economy on the EU, but a certain dependence on Eastern markets and the CIS still remains. The war at our borders has overshadowed all the previously urgent problems that until recently dominated the socio-political life of the country. The process of the rapid decline in the popularity of the president and the entire current government must have slowed down as well. The conflict in Ukraine has pushed the issues of energy and the pandemic to the periphery of public interest and raised the topics of personal and state security. Unlike other political players, the head of state has successfully seized the initiative amid of the Ukrainian events and is trying to act as a national leader in order to regain trust and straighten her personal ratings. To this end, two meetings were held: with representatives of non-parliamentary parties and civil initiatives; with members of civil society and opinion leaders. Maintaining political ratings is, of course, an important matter, but the leadership’s key task is still to keep Moldova from being drawn into the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Given that the parliamentary opposition refused to meet with Sandu, some political groups and parties have a desire to destabilize the situation at any cost and, using the Ukrainian events, weaken the positions of the president and the government. There is no doubt that the military events pose a great danger and risk for our country, and those who want to undermine the situation in Moldova will continue to actively involve us in the conflict field of the neighboring country. Yesterday, information appeared that the military airfield in Marсulesti is planned to be used to supply Ukraine with weapons. The government had to react promptly and refute this rumor, stressing the neutral status of our state, as well as the fact that Moldova is in no way involved in the military conflict in Ukraine. The events in Ukraine must become lessons for our society and authorities. Unsuccessful attempts for many years to seek a compromise at the negotiating table led to the fact that the diplomats fell silent and the army guns started talking. However, the neutral status enshrined in our country’s Constitution is not an absolute, but a substantial guarantee that Moldova will no longer be drawn into an armed confrontation on its territory. We must certainly do everything so that this neutrality is really respected and the “Ukrainian fire” does not spread to our side. Which is why we need to try to maintain solidarity with Western partners and ensure the stability of the situation around the left bank of the Dniester. The relatively calm state on our borders with Ukraine is actually very fragile. Any minor provocation or unverified information can become reasons for bad decisions on the part of Moscow or Kyiv. As we can see, avoiding any sudden moves in the current circumstances is the wisest decision. After all, Russia has not yet opened a separate front in the Odessa direction in order to lay a land corridor to Transnistria, as military experts have predicted for years. Therefore, there is no need to give Moscow an extra reason to include the Moldovan direction in its strategic plans.