Moldova’s Gambit for Russia and Sandu’s Mobilization

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Moscow continues information attacks on the Moldovan authorities and personally on Maia Sandu, keeping up the degree of protest activity in the country
Semyon ALBU, RTA: Undoubtedly, the prank on Maia Sandu by Russian pranksters was the top story of the day. Let’s be frank – it was a blatant failure of the presidency, who set up their boss with a false Shmyhal. One mistake was instantly covered up by another, and they started making completely incomprehensible excuses about the deep fake, which few people believed even among PAS’s own people. Obviously, the conversation did take place. This is confirmed at least by the fact that almost everything Sandu said in the conversation with the alleged Ukrainian prime minister she had already said more than once in public. So, the truth is that the hoax is not especially full of “hot” moments. Mostly. First of all, I was offended by how pathetic the dialogue between the head of our republic and the foreign representative looks. The passive position, the list of topics imposed by the interlocutor – is this how other Sandu’s international contacts go as well? If so, no wonder why all those hundreds of meetings are of no use to Moldova, and why we have finally descended to the status of a geopolitical toy without a vote. Another important point arising from the first one. In a recent piece I asked, whether we have any chance of asserting our interests in relations with Ukraine? I think the answer is clear: of course not. Has Maia Sandu tried to raise a single burning issue for our country? For example, it was Denis Shmyhal who last year opened the fourth turbine of the Dniester Hydroelectric Power Plant, the very power plant that could leave us without a key water artery in the future. That is, the man is certainly in the know. But Sandu did not even mention it. But despite everything, we keep on eagerly serving the neighboring state. Sandu admitted that we help with transporting stuff, which, in general, was an open secret. And what is more interesting – and this is probably the most important point of the whole prank – is that apparently on our own initiative we are ready to give Ukraine Giurgiulesti in use for several years, most likely to build up the logistics of necessary goods, including military goods, by Kyiv. This is already a crime and impeachment, isn’t it? Moreover, Sandu also spoke about an emotional conversation between the two ministers on energy. I can assume that the emotion was due to the price, because in conditions of economic and energy crises, we still buy almost one third of the necessary amount of electricity from Ukraine at a cost much higher than that of the left bank.  Apparently, even the ruling party ministers are not happy about this state of affairs. As for the mobilization that was so quickly picked up by the Russian media, it seems to me that the sensation is overblown. In fact, Sandu said that mobilization would be announced if the country faced the danger of an attack, which is quite logical. What is significant here is that Sandu only views Russia as an enemy per se. There is not even any talk of negotiations, that is, if suddenly Russian troops enter the Odesa region, our government is set up for war from the very beginning. We don’t have to say by whom. That is why aid is poured in to us from all sides to modernize the army, and that is why there is only talk in the ruling party about how we need to urgently strengthen our defense potential. Apparently, in order to be fully prepared for the role of the next cannon fodder. Although I still can’t remember a single Russian decision-maker threatening war against Moldova. Is it any wonder that with Sandu being so anti-Russian, Moscow is already clearly playing its game in our country trying to rock its regime? At one time, when the pro-Russian forces were crushingly defeated in the presidential and early parliamentary elections, the Kremlin tried to build bridges with the PAS. Kozak came here, and the doors were open for Moldovan visitors of all ranks. But our government rejected the outstretched hand of friendship, or at least partnership, and even more “worked” against Russia. So, there had to be at least some reaction. The Kremlin now supports the opposition and the protest movement against the official Chisinau. Cooperation with the Sor party is obvious. Although it is not yet receiving signs of attention at the highest level, as it was for PSRM and Dodon, but it is received not in the last Russian offices. And not just received, but made offers attractive to the population, such as cheap gas. As if to confirm the popular opinion that the gas price for Moldova is high partly because Sandu did not go to Moscow to negotiate with Putin. This idea, rooted in the minds of Moldovans, has already seriously undermined her rating. In addition, PAS’s foreign and domestic policy is regularly slammed by Maria Zakharova, one of the most prominent speakers in Russia. Her attacks look well-coordinated and well-prepared. Suffice it to recall the story with the resumed air link between Moldova and Russia and then banned by the ruling party at Kyiv’s instigation which caused a surge of popular discontent. Moreover, the ruling regime in general and Maia Sandu in particular are subject to methodical informational attacks from Russia Today channel, one of the main mouthpieces of Kremlin propaganda. And now a prank authored by another promoted Russian “brand” called Lexus and Vovan. By all appearances, Moscow truly believes that the current regime in Moldova can be undermined to the point when it collapses like a house of cards, which will clear the way for the pro-Russian forces to revenge. In my opinion, this plan is highly questionable as it takes neither the realities nor the specifics of our country into account. However, the Kremlin has demonstrated more than once that its policy on the Moldova track is anything but elegant. This has already led to disastrous results and this time might lead as well. After all, even if by some miracle Sor members, perhaps with socialists and communists joining them at the right moment, regain power, will they instantly curtail the Euro-Atlantic course? Especially considering that our country is entangled with the Western tentacles and is firmly addicted to the financial needle of international donors who are also to the west of Moldova. Dodon chose not to do that back in his time. Moreover, I am sure that the new government, in any case, will go to Brussels and Washington to bargain for some kind of legitimacy. Russia has little to offer now, except cheap energy resources. And as long as its zone of control is not adjacent to the Moldovan borders, the Kremlin’s plan for a Moldovan gambit is not very clear. Perhaps, it has trump cards that we are not yet aware of. Time will show.