Why Did Moldova Need a New Security Strategy?

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Sergiu CEBAN
The document is most likely being prepared for a sharp increase in the scale of cooperation with Western partners in defense and security
Amidst the changed the regional environment, our authorities are increasingly talking about the need to rethink the threats and develop a new security strategy for Moldova. The updated document must consider the challenges of our time, including the geopolitical uncertainty that is likely to result from the Ukrainian conflict’s hot phase. According to the estimates of the relevant parliamentary committee, the draft strategy will be ready by early fall. It will include a wide range of measures to protect the state in cyberspace, as well as energy and economic security. Strengthening the National Army’s military potential will be a separate area of focus. Of course, its final version will depend on the regional developments in the future and on our state’s economic capabilities to implement it. In this regard we can count on financial support from external sources. After talks with the EU, we were allocated a little over 40 million euros for the army modernization, which almost doubled the Defense Ministry’s budget. Also, its financing was increased by 128 million lei during the state budget adjustment for 2022. Let’s not forget that representatives of Great Britain and the USA have stated earlier they would like to see the Moldovan army better equipped, including within NATO standards, and they have expressed their readiness to supply us with the necessary equipment. Last week our Defense Ministry’s representatives confirmed that Moldova is already being supplied with small arms, first of all for the peacekeeping battalion participating in foreign operations, for example, in Kosovo. Besides the ministry’s leadership intends to use the European financing to update the infantry vehicles. The option of buying helicopters is also being considered. In addition, the near future plans include the modernization of engineering, military field medicine, communications and surveillance systems for special areas using modern drones, and the construction of military units to modern standards. At some stage, according to Secretary of State for Defense Valeriu Mija, it is planned to supply artillery pieces as well. At the same time, it appears that at this stage our military does not intend to conduct partial mobilization or enlarge the armed forces, despite the events in neighboring Ukraine. However, in light of the Ukrainian events, the Defense Ministry still expects to modernize other elements and, in particular, to upgrade anti-tank weapons and air defense systems capable of shooting down modern high-precision missiles. In addition to strengthening defense capabilities, the state’s cyber security is also of great importance. The past two weeks, during which critical infrastructure and several government websites were attacked along with a wave of phone bombing hoaxes, have clearly demonstrated how vulnerable our country is and how much we need to strengthen the cyber sphere. To this end, the government created an interdepartmental council to be in charge of information security and coordinate the actions of authorities to suppress these types of threats. According to experts, the dynamically changing reality, which forces our country to adapt to new conditions will inevitably entail a deep analysis of Moldova’s neutrality provided for in the Constitution and at least its partial change. We must recognize the current status can no longer be regarded as an effective protective mechanism. This is why our leadership, even in violation of the provisions of neutrality, has to respond to the disposition of external partners and accept the offered assistance to strengthen the republic’s defense capabilities. In addition, we need to take into account the fact that NATO has a strong interest in maintaining security and stability on its borders, to contain possible risks and threats there. That is why following the results of the Alliance’s recent summit in Madrid, in the general strategy of strengthening on the eastern flank, the leaders of the block decided on new measures of support of some European countries, including Moldova. Experts are still guessing what the updated version of the security strategy will look like, as the current version of the document has everything that concerns neutrality, cooperation with the NATO, withdrawal of foreign troops, purchase of weapons for transition to modern standards and resolution of the Transdniestrian conflict. It is unlikely that anything can be added in terms of key sections except cyber security, but the fundamental understanding of state protection, approaches, tools and the amount of resources spent on it may change altogether. Therefore, the document seems to be prepared for increasing the scale of cooperation with Western partners on security. Depending on the future regional situation the new strategy is certain to change also the status of Russia, which may well be assigned a special place as the main source of threats to national security and the territorial integrity of the country. Whatever the end of the current confrontation between Kyiv and Moscow, the unsettled status of the Transdniestrian region is a constant reason for Moldova’s possible involvement in military operations and total socio-economic destabilization. According to some analysts, as well as some of our politicians, Moldova, being a weak country in terms of economy, diplomacy and army, lacking the necessary resources for preventive actions in the region, should keep to the traditional relatively neutral approach to the processes raging around us. However, such moderate pacifist views are likely to fade into history, along with their authors and bearers – the Moldovan post-Soviet elites. The current generation of politicians does not want to be out of the game and leave the country in an unclear status and a gray zone of geopolitical uncertainty. And our Western partners have already stated publicly at the level of their ambassadors that they expect an inclusive behavior of our authorities with regard to everything that is happening, including the gradual accession to the sanctions policy against Moscow.