Judging by the events taking place, we can say almost for sure: the coming weeks promise very dynamic political processes in the country and the very “hot autumn” predicted by experts.
Alarming expectations of a worsening energy crisis in the coming month have fully come true. As of yesterday, Moldova is no longer under contract with the Moldovan GRES, and on the night of October 31 to November 1, the plant reduced its generating capacity to a minimum. The first signs that the two banks did not agree appeared last weekend, when Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu announced the signing of a contract with Romanian suppliers. As a matter of fact, we keep buying the necessary volumes there.
Considering the contract at a higher price, ANRE is urgently adjusting electricity tariffs for end users. Surprisingly, the government has not yet even mentioned any compensation for the population, which has borne the additional burden.
Despite the substitution of sources, according to experts, Romanian suppliers will not be able to fully cover the need for electricity today. The deficit can range from 30% to 50%, and this, in turn, will cause rolling blackouts during peak hours. If because of the sharp increase in the cost of gas the population was largely saved by affordable electricity, the forthcoming increase in the tariff, together with periodic blackouts, could really generate a sharp increase in discontent among people. It is precisely this social mood that anti-government forces are waiting for in order to organize a decisive move against the current government.
It is important to understand that Moldova falls within several scenario contours: pan-European, regional (Ukrainian) and local (Moldovan). Each one has its own specific impact on our country. The first context is the continental energy crisis and the Kremlin’s big energy game with Europe, which is strongly unpredictable due to the possibility of new energy sabotage and other cataclysms during the cold winter months. The plan, one must assume, is to inflict maximum damage on the economy of the European Union, with political and socio-economic consequences.
With regard to Ukraine, as we know, a much more aggressive scenario is being implemented, with the ongoing collapse of critical infrastructure. But while the combat front is some distance from Moldova’s borders and we can talk about a protective buffer, in terms of energy attacks, our country has actually already fallen into the funnel of the Russian-Ukrainian confrontation. Recent Russian strikes on the Ukrainian power system using high-precision missiles and drones have had an immediate impact on us as well. First of all, we are talking about strikes on the Novodnestrovskaya HPP, where, in addition to disabling this facility, another goal was to cut off the northern branch of the Moldovan supply line from Ukraine.
This gesture by Moscow was followed by the expulsion of a Russian diplomat from Chisinau, indicating our government's willingness not only to accept the challenge posed by the Kremlin, but also to systematically raise the stakes in this gamble. Russia, by the way, keeps nudging the Moldovan leadership through its Foreign Ministry to resume negotiations as if expressing its readiness to cooperate productively.
However, it is already clear that no contacts with Russia are planned for the foreseeable future. The American ambassador’s position is telling in this regard. The other day Kent Logsdon said that Washington may support the Moldovan budget under the energy security program, but also added that the coming winter will be hard. From this we can make it clear that the American partners are more or less willing to help us in energy games with the Kremlin, but only if we resist. That is, Moldova, most likely, in any case will have to pay for such a position, the price being a winter full of hardship and deprivation.
On top of that, difficulties in the energy sector force the country’s leadership to aggravate relations with the left bank of the Dniester, relations with which, despite mutual quarrels, had been more or less stable up to then. Tiraspol has already managed to blame everything on the central authorities. Particularly sharp was their reaction to the change in the daily proportions of gas supplied to the right and left banks. Tiraspol believes that Chisinau has grossly violated the existing contract with Gazprom and jeopardized the region’s industry, as well as its socio-economic well-being. This decision prompted the Transdniestrian administration to extend the state of economic emergency until December 1.
Nevertheless, the lack of hysteria and traditional threats from Tiraspol, except for some routine accusations, suggests that Moscow has most likely reimbursed financially the costs of the “forced economic decline” on the left bank. Also, the demonstrative calls from the region’s authorities to seek help from Moscow are alarming. This might well be used as a pretext for Moscow to voice certain “salvation” solutions in order to convincingly shift the blame for the whole situation on Chisinau.
The incumbent authorities are facing a serious dilemma. On one side of the scale is cutting consumption of Russian energy resources, which would reduce political dependence on Moscow all the way to zero. On the other side is the threat of a socio-economic outburst with disastrous political ramifications. Losing controllable relations with the left bank stands apart, since without free Russian resources, in a deep crisis and destabilized, the region not only becomes a source of further risks, but also unties Moscow’s hands.
All these events indisputably indicate that starting November 1, a plan to totally destabilize and forcefully topple the Moldovan government has been launched. I would not like to indulge in conspiracy speculation, but it was at the moment of a decisive energy strike that two key figures in the power hierarchy, the president and the speaker of parliament, left the country for Bucharest to participate in a conference on a topic that is not the most important. Nobody knows who else of the top political officials left the country. But one thing is almost certain: the upcoming weeks promise quite dynamic political processes in the country, with that very “hot autumn” as was predicted by the experts.