Expert: Moldova Bets on Ukraine’s Military Victory

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Anton Șveț
Apparently, the current government and the Western establishment behind it are seriously expecting Ukraine to be able to fight back and the war to end with some diplomatic solution, militarily and politically safe for Moldova. Thus, our leadership’s actions, determined by the subjective perception of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, are constantly being radicalized, both in domestic and foreign policy
Events on the frontlines of the Ukrainian-Russian confrontation are now following diverging paths. On the one hand, Russian troops jointly with mobilized “LDPR” units are slowly but successfully advancing in the Donbass and northern Kharkiv Oblast. The village of Peski has been captured, and fighting is expected in the vicinity of the strongly fortified AFU areas in Soledar, Maryinka and Avdiivka. Meanwhile, the previously widely announced Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kherson direction is clearly being postponed, probably due to the lack of forces, funds and equipment to conduct the offensive in the open plain terrain. On the other hand, Russia is having a hard time holding Enerhodar and Ukraine’s largest NPP in the city subject to systematic shelling. A bloc of Western states, including the G7, are demanding that Kyiv regain full control of the strategic facility. Moreover, Ukraine has managed to inflict painful blows deep in Russia’s rear, particularly on the Crimean Peninsula. On Tuesday, an act of sabotage at a military depot in the Dzhankoy area caused the detonation of ammunition and the evacuation of over three thousand residents. On August 9, about seven explosions occurred at the military airfield near Novofedorivka. On July 31, a drone with a low-powered explosive device attacked the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. For several months, the AFU have been sabotaging and launching rocket and artillery attacks on Russian facilities in the neighboring Bryansk, Kursk, and Belgorod regions. In general, the current stage of military operations is mainly unpredictable. Under these conditions, events drastically altering the existing strategic position could occur, including man-made disasters or attacks by one side in unexpected directions, since Russia and Ukraine have already displayed their great destructive potential. At the same time, the successful sabotage in Crimea once again raises the problem of security of Russian military equipment depots in the Transdniestrian village of Cobasna, which borders with Ukraine. This facility, guarded by the OGRF contingent in the Transdniestrian region, is of undoubted interest to the belligerent Ukraine. It is unlikely that Kyiv sees it as a real threat to its own security, but it is certainly seen as one of the possible sources to replenish the AFU’s dwindling ammunition. In addition, Kyiv’s loss of strategic positions in the eastern, northeastern, or southern direction may require stretching the front to counter the Russian offensive. The Cobasna warehouses are a suitable facility despite the fact that our authorities have publicly expressed negatively about the potential impact of the AFU on the territory of the Left Bank. Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Serebrian recently said that Moldova would reject Ukraine’s offer to resolve the Transdniestrian issue militarily, if it were to arrive. At the same time, he claims that the Russian army will not reach Odesa in the near future, but “the destabilization of the situation in Moldova can happen without a Russian offensive in the south of Ukraine.” For this reason, our leadership takes a wait-and-see attitude, benefitting from the advantages already gained from the closure of Ukraine’s border with the separatist enclave. The same Serebrian points out the fact that all Transdniestrian goods turnover passes through the constitutional customs authorities, which promotes socio-economic reintegration, but immediately takes a cautious mind, “Amid the war, it’s quite obvious that we will not proceed with the political package, but the end of hostilities in the neighbouring state will undoubtedly reopen discussions on the Transdniestrian case”. Deputy prime minister also assured that “Moldova seems today further away than ever from any federalization thoughts and ideas”: “We will not give in on this point. We want the Transdniestrian region to be part of the Republic of Moldova, but not at any price. The price cannot be independence of the Republic of Moldova...That is why we must postpone the country’s reunification until the time when geopolitical situation becomes more favorable”. Apparently, the current government and the Western establishment behind it really hope that Ukraine will manage to fight back and everything will end with some kind of diplomatic solution – albeit not a final, but at least an interim one, but definitely not the one that implies a border between Transdniestria and the Russian-controlled territories. They expect that this will finally deprive Tiraspol of Moscow as its only influential patron, as they consider the Kremlin responsible for many years of failures in reintegrating the country. At least, the statements and political actions by Maia Sandu point there is such confidence. The other day, the president demanded that law enforcement agencies focus on citizens who support Russia’s aggression in Ukraine: “People who agree with the killing of Ukrainians are dangerous for society, agencies must stop them.” Maia Sandu also called for harsh measures against those Moldovan media that justify or propagate the war, because they provoke state security risks. The war between Russia and Ukraine has become an internal political factor of disunity in Moldova, which the authorities are not able, and not even willing, to manage. On the contrary, the authorities, with their subjective and/or false perceptions of the situation on the Ukrainian front, are constantly radicalizing their actions, and have already sided clearly with one of the parties to the conflict. This adds to the polarization of the society, provoking unnecessary tension, as seen in the case of Gagauzia. The way in which the authorities approach the Transdniestrian problem, in fact using it as a tool for energy blackmail of the Kremlin, additionally aggravates the situation. And this, should the war events develop in a way that is not anticipated by the authorities, might have dire consequences.