How to Keep Moldova from War?

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The authorities are not responding properly to the alarming signals that Moldova may also become a target in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict
Semyon ALBU, RTA: The war in Ukraine continues with an increasingly noticeable tightening. Any illusions, if anyone still had them, that the conflict would be quick and bloodless, have dispelled – including, as we see, in Russian headquarters. Russian tactics have changed, and now it comes down to securing the occupied territories, rather than leaving them in the rear, systematically encircling large metropolitan areas and more active use of aviation and missile strikes. As a result, the Ukrainian armed forces are being defeated in almost all directions and are suffering heavy losses. The conflict in the neighboring country continues to directly affect our republic. The flow of refugees is not drying up, and meanwhile world energy prices are rising by leaps and bounds. Especially the cost of gas has skyrocketed. We can see that would-be forecaster Andrei Spinu’s prophecy of the spring price drops for blue fuel didn’t come true. By the way, now we know that the government was aware of a possible conflict back in the fall, but in the end it concluded the contract in such a form. Well, where is PAS, and where is strategic thinking, right. In any case, Moldova will need Western institutions’ and the EU’s assistance to cope with both the migration and energy crisis. The scale and the very chance of it pose a good question, because the insane sanctions war between Russia and the EU carries shock risks for both economies. Especially if it comes to the complete abandonment of Russian energy resources, which is still seen as an unlikely option – because it will be self-defeating for everyone. Then again, the disconnection of the Russian Federation from SWIFT recently seemed extreme. On the other hand, economic losses may seem like a trifle compared to the risks of being directly affected by the Ukrainian crisis. The other day, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko held a meeting of the Security Council, during which a very interesting map of Ukraine got into the frame. The directions of the offensive of the Russian troops were marked on it, most of which more or less coincide with the real picture. In addition to the suspicious arrows in the southwest – to Odessa and the Transnistrian region, even marked with a separate color, unlike the rest of Moldova. Many experts have already taken note of this. Their opinions are divided. Some believe that this is deliberate disinformation in order to continue to shackle the Ukrainian forces in the Odessa direction, which from the first hours of the Russian invasion are expecting the landing of Russian troops. Others are confident that these strikes will be carried out, but later, when the Russians is able to release forces from other directions and weather conditions will is more favorable for the amphibious operation. Whatever it is, the risks for Moldova are enormous. We can only guess about Russia’s real intentions, especially since we are not even trying to find out through diplomatic or other channels. Therefore, it is completely unclear whether the Russians are really going to enter the left bank and, if so, whether they plan to limit themselves only to it, or whether the whole of Moldova will be under the Russian “umbrella”. And you know that earlier we repeatedly wrote about the danger that the Euro-Atlantic policy of the authorities and the direct deliveries of American weapons that have begun, constant exercises with NATO, the military infrastructure of the bloc deployed in our country and the signing of any plans for cooperation with the Alliance pose. We even pointed out that Moldova began to appear in the Russian Defense Ministry’s reports as a platform for the deployment of NATO forces, and that this is fraught with very serious consequences. But, despite the pile of alarming signals, our short-sighted authorities were too deluded by the factor of the absence of a common border, considering it a guarantee against everything bad. When they, most likely, will be gone in the near future – what will be a guarantee for us now? There is absolutely no time for jokes now. The situation has been put on edge, and the current steps of the authorities can determine the future of Moldova for the next decades. What do we see? On the one hand, positive signals are being sent. The PAS recalled neutrality, called for peace, condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine, but without hysteria. Finally, a firm refusal to join Western sanctions against Russia was voiced. However, along with this, we also see very dangerous actions. The gross cleansing of the Moldovan media field from Russian resources, which is completely unnecessary in the current conditions, by the decision of the special services without any legal procedures, is a very unfriendly step, the time for a harsh assessment of which from Moscow will surely come. Official contacts of Maia Sandu and senior officials are carried out exclusively with Western representatives. There doesn’t appear to be even an attempt to communicate with Russian seniors, which in the current conditions is simply inexplicable and stupid. Against this background, we are trying to “fish in troubled waters” by announcing accelerated integration, in which we are warmly supported by Bucharest and its emissaries in the EU institutions. Moreover, voices are being heard louder and louder in favor of the starting the unirea of the two countries as a guarantee of security for Moldova, which in this case is covered by the Romanian, and, therefore, by the NATO shield. But such plans can only further provoke Russia. Colleagues have been developing this idea for a long time, and I support it: it’s time to decide. In fact, we don’t have many options left that can save Moldova from big trouble. The first one is keep neutral and try to become a buffer between the West and the East. Here we can think about international guarantees of the country’s neutral status, complete demilitarization with the withdrawal of all foreign armed formations and advisers, recorded non-entry into military blocs, a reasonable settlement of the Transnistrian conflict. It may also be necessary to abandon European integration, although it is still possible to discuss here. Given the current escalation, I see this path as optimal, but not too realistic. The second option, to which, most likely, we will move, is accelerated Euro-Atlantic integration and final consolidation in the Western sphere of influence. In this case, the loss of statehood and unirea under the pretext of protection from the Russian threat can be considered almost inevitable at some stage. We can expect the appearance of a military contingent from Romania, which we predicted quite recently. It seemed fantastic to many, but now it can be a harsh reality. This option is also realistic, but it does not remove the risks of becoming another hot spot in the cold war between Russia and the West. In addition, in this case, we will probably have to say goodbye to the prospect of the country’s reintegration – although the current authorities, apparently, will not be too upset about this.