Salvation by Takeover: Why Is Unirea Being Brought Up Again?

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According to RTA experts, escalation of the conflict in Ukraine multiplies the chances for unification of Romania and Moldova
Sergiu CEBAN: Despite the successes of the AFU, Moscow, as one would expect, does not intend to abandon its goals. If the international community fails to bring Moscow and Kyiv to the negotiating table, an acute military escalation on the front is practically unavoidable. This is understood both in the West, where, incidentally, our President is visiting, and in Chisinau. Therefore, the advisers hurriedly persuaded Maia Sandu to hold the Supreme Security Council meeting as soon as possible upon her return from the USA. Mobilization in Russia, as well as the intention to absorb the seized Ukrainian territories, is a challenge for our government. Once again, the possibility of Russian troops moving toward Moldova’s borders must be seriously considered. And, hence, it is necessary to be fully prepared when this happens. The President’s consultations with the NATO secretary general, the joint military exercises with the U.S. and Romanian military, the visit of the Defense Ministry Chief of Staff, and the mass of unannounced meetings in the U.S. – all this should in theory demonstrate the readiness of the armed forces and our partners to repel any possible aggression. In fact, however, it is obvious to any experienced specialist that the existing military potential is unlikely to be effective against a massive offensive or a point-by-point operation by a small number of special units, against which the regular army is practically powerless. Besides, today neither Bucharest nor Washington and Brussels have any legal obligations to protect Moldova’s security. And all the support currently provided will not help Chisinau in a severe military crisis. This may not be the best comparison, but over time even Moscow has realized that it is virtually impossible to effectively provide military, law enforcement and other cover for the territories without a clear legal basis. Therefore, the real salvation for Moldova could be a plan agreed upon, primarily by Washington, for an urgent change in our country’s legal status at a decisive moment. As trite as it sounds, the only available option in this case is the notorious unirea. Given the breadth of international legal practice, the unification of the two states can be implemented in a variety of accelerated and/or intermediate forms with the sole purpose of legally hiding us under the NATO umbrella. It’s unlikely, of course, that we will find out what they will really discuss at Saturday’s Supreme Security Council meeting. But given how events in our region have accelerated, we won’t have to wait long for signs of the course our leadership has chosen. On the other hand, many are already paying attention to attempts of some former politicians to try their luck again at such a crucial moment for the country. One can be as ironic as one wants about Mihai Ghimpu’s return to big Moldovan politics, but the reactivation of exactly this kind of “Unionist heavyweights” seems, at least, not accidental. Vladimir ROTARI: The idea of unirea has been hovering invisibly in our society almost throughout the entire history of modern Moldova. However, since last year, the course for the realization of the long-standing dream of “Bessarabian patriots” has taken on more delicate features. Even if politicians with real power, both in Chisinau and in Bucharest, prefer not to make loud and hasty statements about unification, elements of “creeping unirea” are firmly rooted in our politics. And here we should not even look at formal actions like joint meetings of the governments and parliaments of the two countries – although that is also important. Much more important is the field work where the common Romanian space is being created to its full extent – with the constant coordination of our state agencies with the Romanian ones, joint patrolling of the border, the economic links. Romania invests a lot in Moldova, but not as an aid to a hapless neighbor, but rather as a long-term investment in its future province. The strengthening of Romanian influence in Moldova coincided with the completion of the process of the Moldovan statehood bankruptcy. Unfortunately, we have finally reached the state of an “addict”, able to survive only with regular financial injections from outside. This was clear before, but the catastrophic situation has been completely exposed amid all the crises. Depopulation, poverty, the failure of the elites, economic decline, widespread corruption, and dysfunctional justice have all become pathological in our country and practically incurable. Under such conditions, the idea that only “reuniting with the Prut brothers” could bring hope for a more or less good life would flourish on its own, even without external aid. And with it, it would flourish all the more. On the whole, that is what is happening: over the past decade, the number of unirea supporters has grown tenfold. My point is that the loss of statehood under the current course, under the current government and under all the current trends in the economy and society was only a matter of time. Radical changes inside or outside the country could only slow this process down or speed it up. Now we are witnessing the second option. Why is this happening? The Ukrainian conflict has added a whole new factor –security. It was present in a way before because of the Transdniestrian conflict, but it had never been so acute before February 24. With the introduction of mobilization in Russia and the impending annexation by Russia of new Ukrainian regions, the regional situation will become even more unpredictable. Yet, it is obvious that despite the major defeats of pro-Russian forces in the 2020-2021 elections, the Kremlin still nurtures hope for a “Moldovan revenge”, including helping to arrange protest movements and rocking the internal political situation in the country. Therefore, I assume that with the beginning of a new phase of the war in Ukraine and the West-Russia confrontation in the coming months one can expect a sharp intensification of our leadership’s contacts with Romania, including for obtaining military guarantees from the neighboring state. I do not rule out that such a scenario has already been approved in Washington, and that is what Maia Sandu is carrying after her foreign tour. And at the moment, and maybe even before that, when the Russian troops indicate the movement to the west, the Romanian troops and police forces may be sent to Moldova on the request of the ruling party to work with the national army to guard the borders and suppress possible disturbances and popular uprisings. After that unirea will take place de facto, and its legal formalization will be a technical matter. The only thing that is not clear is what will happen to Transdniestria. I don’t think that Bucharest is ready to start a war with Russia, so initially Romanian forces can occupy the entire right-bank Moldova, without risking possible clashes with the armed formations, as well as peacekeepers and OGRF on the left bank. Then the Transdniestrian issue can be solved. How? For example, to arrange a renewed negotiation process with Tiraspol on the forced reintegration or, in a tough scenario, blockade of the region until the capitulation of its authorities. It is not excluded that Ukrainian side will take care of liquidation of Russian forces on the left bank of the Dniester. In short, there is more than one option.