How Does the Taboo on the Russian Vector Threaten Moldova?

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Semyon ALBU, Vladimir ROTARI
The “red lines” drawn by the development partners for the foreign policy of Moldova have become too obvious.
It would be high time for the ruling party to adopt a new motto, such as: “We destroy the country turn-key, quickly and cheaply”. Indeed, the regression in development in just one year is so striking that it is scary to imagine what ‘vremuri bune’ awaits us in the coming 2023. In the meantime, we have the intermediate results: the inflation is the highest in Europe; the tariffs have increased several times, and this is not the limit; the citizens leave the country at a record pace; those who stayed behind stock up on flashlights and candles, watching the Moldovan villages and towns sink into darkness. While the PAS members continue to cite the war in Ukraine as the root cause of all the troubles, it is clear to all more or less reasonable people where the “dog is really buried”. Of course, it’s the gas issue. The first heap of problems was greatly caused by the skyrocketing prices for the blue fuel, and then due to the reduction of Russia’s supplies to Moldova. Is it the political decision?  Undoubtedly. But, on the other hand, what did the regime saturating practically all its foreign and internal policy directions the “anti-Russianism” expect? The “Moldovan boat” keeps floating as if someone has stolen all the oars. Nobody is going to go to Moscow, explaining with difficult political conditions and almost a threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity for us there. With a clear hint it all took place at the previous talks, and the skill of “yellow negotiators” saved the situation. However, yesterday it became finally clear – even to the most extreme PAS apologists – that this is a blatant lie. Vladimir Putin, answering a question from PCRM deputy Constantin Staris at the Valdai forum, unexpectedly admitted that he had told Gazprom to conclude a contract with Moldova on our terms, knowing that we wouldn’t be able to pay higher prices. So much for the domination of Spinu. By the way, the latter has admitted that it was really like that, while the Russian monopolist initially insisted on market prices. In other words, Moscow not only made advances to the regime, to put it mildly, not so friendly, but also did not set any political conditions, about which all the PAS top brass and even the President personally lie non-stop. We can now say with absolute certainty that all the energy problems have been created artificially, since the ruling party is deliberately going for the final break in all ties with Russia, where the final point is the formal termination of relations. This is being done on the instructions of Western supervisors, who are constantly hinting that any contacts with Russia and Euro-Atlantic integration are incompatibles. In such reality, it is natural that no one will go to Moscow, no matter how much the country’s population and the economy suffer from the shortage of cheap energy resources. On the contrary, the flywheel of anti-Russian steps is only being spun. Not that there has not been enough of them throughout this year – there is a ban on Russian programs, and banking sanctions, and many other things that have already been enumerated more than once. But now the game is serious. First, they are going to sue Gazprom, which, together with barely veiled intentions to “squeeze” the Russian company of its property from us, will surely end the contract. Second, the narrative of “Russian occupation of Moldova” is significantly strengthened. Among other things, there was the suggestion to organize the “Transdniestrian platform” by analogy. The fact that it was voiced by Volodymyr Zelensky should not relax – our parliament has already announced that they will definitely look into it. Thirdly, the odious MP Dumitru Alaiba forwarded the idea of declaring Russia a “terrorist state”. And this initiative, according to speaker Igor Grosu, will not go unnoticed either. So, you understand where the wind blows. I doubt that the authorities are fully aware of what their thoughtless maneuvers can lead to. But it is not their place to think, either. Their task is to execute orders, no matter what. And the Western lord may give something in return: financial assistance, for example, or a blessing to eliminate political enemies in the form of U.S. sanctions. But what are the implications of losing the relationship with the former metropolis? The first consequence on the surface is a complete cutoff of gas supplies. And the authorities hope in vain that they can be easily replaced, albeit at higher prices. Romania has not given us any gas guarantees. Hopes are very dim in Brussels – the EU is now saving gas, first of all, for itself by buying it all over the world. The situation with vaccines and covid medicines is exactly the same, all the volumes of which, so far, the West has only been taking for itself. Creating a solidarity market for gas distribution among the EU members and candidates, which our authorities looked for, has not yet succeeded, nor has agreeing on a price ceiling. Some may say that the other day we had a real alternative appear thanks to the pumping agreement with Bulgaria. In theory, this really allows us to get LNG from terminals in Greece and Turkey. Okay, and what LNG does Greece get now? Russian? Oh, how inconvenient... And supplies are scheduled for a long time ahead. Without Russian gas they would have to say goodbye forever to cheap electricity from the left bank as well. You can look up how much does the alternative electricity from fraternal Romania cost. The difference is even much more than threefold. Moreover, the Russian market will be completely lost. Even though it’s not the leading direction for our exports – but it’s still very important. This is likely to strike a lot of our farmers, already suffering from the energy crisis. Along with the Russian market, we can also expect a tightening for our migrant workers, who will have to look for work elsewhere. In case of destruction of the Russian-Moldovan relations the republic will definitely leave the CIS. We practically do not participate in the work of the Commonwealth under the new power, always referring to our leaders’ busyness. But the formal exit from the CIS, which our partners will bend us to, will deprive the country of many preferences, including a visa-free regime, various trade bonuses, an opportunity to attend official events and to communicate there with the colleagues on the post-Soviet space that would not be superfluous. Most likely, severing relations with Minsk will be a “bonus”, all the more so because for some reason (although it is clear at whose behest) we ourselves are making steps to that end by setting up a parliamentary “Belarus Democratic Movement support group” and organizing meetings with representatives of Svetlana Tihanovskaia. And this means losing an important economic partner that exports lots of useful products to our country, including industrial products, and, in turn, willingly accepts Moldovan goods in its market. Not to mention the Eurasian Union, in which we still have the observer status. But converting it into benefits for Moldova is unlikely under the current government. Then, there are problems in the security field. The issue of Cobasna depots will be put on hold for the next years, unless it is meant to be solved by force, which is even worse. The pressure on the Russian grouping on the left bank will increase, as will the desire of the Russian Federation to retain it, in light of the emerging realities. It cannot be ruled out that the country’s leaders will withdraw from the 1992 agreement, the move that would outlaw Russian peacekeepers. That would multiply the risks of unfreezing the Transdniestrian conflict, with Moscow unlikely to stick to its current arbiter position, clearly taking one side (it is clear which side) and viewing the other as its Ukrainian-type foe. Without a counterbalance, the North Atlantic Alliance will launch a full-scale absorption of our territory, despite the resistance of most people. In parallel, Bucharest will exponentially boost its influence to become the main hub for Moldova: both in terms of Euro-Atlantic integration and energy imports. And the more of the Romanian penetrates into Moldova, the less Moldovan the country becomes – including the sovereignty that our puppet authorities care so much about.