Why Does Neutral Moldova Need So Many Weapons?

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The West seems now to be concerned about bolstering Moldova’s military potential and is ready to deliver military supplies to our country based on the Ukrainian example. Why is there an urgent need to arm the neutral republic and what are the benefits and risks for us?
Vladimir ROTARI, RTA: Unfortunately, large-scale crises continue to define our already turbulent existence. The most acute one is still associated with the conflict in Ukraine, with no sign of ending. The warring sides have hardened enough not to bother with even formal negotiations. All of them are certain that they will reach their goals on the battlefield. And these goals are getting more ambitious every day in both Kyiv and Moscow. This means that the bloody fight will continue. Undoubtedly, one of the most important factors fueling this war was the Western military supplies to Ukraine. In the first weeks, our neighbors suffered heavy losses in materiel, ground combat equipment, aviation, and air defense systems. However, the huge flow of foreign military aid helped to compensate to some extent for what was lost during the first period of the war, to increase the AFU’s defensive and offensive capabilities, as well as its quantitative composition. Certainly, not everything is running smoothly – some countries, for example, Germany, are deliberately delaying the transfer of heavy weapons, but on the whole the process is under way, and Russia’s targeted missile strikes are no longer able to stop it. Based on some reports, the vast majority of the North Atlantic Alliance countries are already on board, primarily the United States, Poland, the Czech Republic and others. Thanks to the new weapons, Ukrainian forces are now able to deliver sensitive counterstrikes and even repel Russian troops in some directions. It should be noted that military supplies to Ukraine started long before February 24. Our neighbors have been regularly pumped with weapons since 2014, but recently the pace, volume and quality of supplies have grown exponentially. We should not forget the foreign military instructors who have been training Ukrainian soldiers and officers for eight years. Thus, the results are quite dialectical. On the one hand, Western arms and training assistance contributed to Kyiv’s ability to contain the Russian onslaught and turn the conflict into a war of attrition (where the chances of winning or at least achieving a “no win” are higher). On the other hand, the very fact that NATO countries pumped Ukraine with weapons and instructors on a massive scale undoubtedly fed Moscow’s phobias (including that of a possible Ukrainian offensive in Donbass), which eventually turned into a conviction that the “Ukrainian knot” could only be solved by force. From this perspective, attempts to portray foreign military aid as an unambiguous asset raise certain skepticism. However, this is exactly what our government is doing now amid tempting offers for military supplies. Earlier this month, the head of the European Council, Charles Michel, during his visit to Moldova said that already this year the European Union plans to increase military support to Moldova by improving its capacity in logistics, cyber defense, command, etc. Back then, the authorities were quick to point out that it was not a question of providing lethal weapons, but rather of reinforcing logistic support system. But, as it turned out, the next step was not long in coming. Now, the British Foreign Office boss, Liz Truss, expressing concern about the “vulnerability” of Moldova, suggested that our country’s armed forces should be harmonized with NATO standards – of course, only for the purpose of self-defense against Russia. Washington echoed her, expressing its strong willingness to start supplying weapons to Moldova, should such a request be made by the official authorities. Our leadership, which no longer hides its embarrassment or even irritation about the status of neutrality prescribed in the Constitution, very quickly responded to the call and agreed to accept any foreign aid for the National Army. As usual, Igor Grosu, our “hawk”, and also speaker of the parliament, set the tone. He also made several more comments on the need to invest in the Army, in order to cope with the existing challenges, and that the neutrality must be defended (indeed?) which means that it cannot be compromised by military supplies. The MFAEI, by the way, has already confirmed that it is in talks with Western partners about possible deliveries of weapons and military equipment to the country, which will be carried out within Moldova-NATO Individual Partnership Plan signed earlier. Well, we warned and said many times before that the document is not just nominal and that its time will come. So, the time has come. In this whole gun affair, I see lots of motives and benefits for the West, primarily for the United States, and none for Moldova. Why our development partners need this is generally clear. First of all, to create another bridgehead against Russia. My colleagues have mentioned this recently, and I’m not going to recite them here – it is all clear anyway. Secondly, money. A lot of money. Secondly, money. A lot of money. The Ukrainian conflict and the massive arms deliveries have allegedly drained the military reserves of many countries and, on some items even the United States. And this means plenty of tasty orders for the U.S. defense industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars to replace the older weapons and equipment shipped en masse to Ukraine. Therefore, the more spots for pouring weaponry will appear on the map, the larger sums will be in question, giving a boost to their own defense industry that will be paid for, immediately or in installments, by the recipient countries. That is why they are talking not only about Moldova but also about Georgia and the Baltic states. The extent to which this kind of aid is profitable for the giver can be understood only by estimating how the amount of the lend-lease for Ukraine totaling 40 billion dollars will be distributed. But why we are being dragged into this deal by the acting government would be more difficult to explain if we originally thought it was at least a bit sovereign. But since we are talking about a protectorate deprived of its own will, all the questions automatically become irrelevant – the ruling regime is there only to serve the current needs of its curators. For if the authorities were guided by national interests, they would politely decline all offers for military aid, with a mandatory footnote on neutrality. Potential military supplies would be of no benefit to us. First, it would be expensive, inappropriate in the midst of a severe socio-economic crisis, and paid for through a credit or some unpleasant concessions. Second, there is no one against whom we should be at war unless we are artificially dragged into the conflict. All we will get from this dubious venture is additional tension with Moscow, which almost every day finds reasons to criticize the various actions and statements of our government. And, to be fair, there are reasons to do so. When American planes with weapons first landed in Chisinau last fall, Moldova quickly came into focus of the Russian Ministry of Defense, which announced that our country was militarized. Now the situation is way more acute, the stakes are higher, and the prospects of turning the country’s territory into a battlefield are more than real. But this does not stop the regime from further dragging us into conflict with Russia. Probably, not of its own volition but at the insistent recommendation of its “senior partners”. But this hardly makes anyone feel better.