Moldova, NATO and “EU Military Mobility”

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Vladimir ROTARI
This year, Moldova found itself under the total influence of NATO. The formal renunciation of neutrality and the application for membership in the Alliance are now practically solved issues and a matter of the very near future. Especially since Chisinau has already been defined the nearest tasks within the “collective European security”.
For the second day in a row, the European high-profile guest is in the capital – this time President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola. Her visit, even compared to that of the Head of the European Commission, is more motivational in nature, with the general narrative “Europe is there for you”, where “you” stands for the ruling party, of course.  However, following this year’s tradition, there was also a militaristic component: at a briefing with Maia Sandu, Metsola said that the EU would support Moldova in strengthening its security and defense: “Here we see a country firmly facing a very difficult war going on in a neighboring country. This is a conflict for which we should have been more prepared. We need to boost the security infrastructure. We need to create a stable security and defense union that would complement NATO, and that means helping countries like the Republic of Moldova”. Such statements can be considered a reflection of the “new sincerity” when Moldova’s integration into the North Atlantic bloc, which is already more than obvious and accelerated many times during the PAS rule, is not even covered by standard mantras about “respect for the neutrality status”. There are plenty of signs that major shifts are taking place in the republic’s security. First of all, it’s the cleansing of the political space from the key opposition parties that stand for unconditional neutrality, and we have long warned about its inevitability. The process is now reaching its climax. The Sor party, which initiated major protests in the capital, is literally hanging on by a thread to be legally banned. The Party of Socialists, whose headquarters were searched as part of a case of illegal financing, seems to be next in line. After that, the ruling party in one way or another – by intimidation, bribery, or somehow else – will secure a constitutional majority in parliament, so that further changes to the neutral status will look at least outwardly democratic. And they will do it by bringing all the documents – from the national security strategy to the Constitution – in the needed shape. The preparation for this is in full swing: public opinion is slowly “heated” by the loyal experts, who talk day after day on TV about how neutral status is obsolete and how vital it is to have a strong army cooperating with NATO. Naturally, no one in the West will wait for all these formalities to be completed – the cooperation with the Alliance will blossom in parallel, gradually turning Moldova into an ordinary bloc member. That is why our Armed Forces get so much attention from the West, which received tens of millions of dollars from EU, USA and other partners for their modernization and refurbishment this year alone. One cannot but notice the unprecedented frequency of joint military exercises. Together with colleagues from Romania, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany and other Western countries, our servicemen undergo training in prompt interaction with the military of the Alliance, practice individual combat scenarios, etc. But the West focuses not only on strengthening our army: another component of interest to our partners is infrastructure. Although it is still not officially mentioned – barely hinted at, but Moldova has long been involved in the transit of various goods to Ukraine under the facilitated regime. Whether there are, so to say, military goods among them is a question, but most likely the answer is positive. And the importance of Moldova as a transshipment point and a hub for the delivery of arms to Kyiv they want to strengthen. This is hinted at by ambitious plans to expand the network of railway corridors between our countries, which will provide another direct transit route from the EU to Ukraine. In addition, they are going to simplify customs clearance procedures. The authorities, when they speak about the development of the railway communication with their neighbor, first of all emphasize civilian transportation, but this is an obvious deceit. Especially given the European Commission’s plan to improve the military mobility of troops and armaments, presented yesterday. Almost 1.7 billion euros are to be spent on its implementation until 2027. “The action plan aims to ensure the rapid and unhindered movement of troops and their equipment – promptly and extensively, enabling them to respond quickly to emerging threats at our external borders and beyond,” according to a document on the European Commission’s website. The plan includes improvements to military transport infrastructure, new requirements for the fuel supply chain for military vehicles, digitalization of coordination processes for arms deliveries, strengthening protection against cyber-attacks and other possible threats, and eliminating risks associated with foreign direct investment in critical infrastructure. Commenting on the plan, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell said that it is crucial for European defense to be able to move troops quickly from one part of the EU to another, mainly from west to east. For this purpose, in his opinion, it is necessary to initiate the construction of bridges, tunnels, roads and railroads. Moreover, the European official frankly admitted that the “military mobility plan” includes not only the EU countries, but also the Union’s potential members: the Balkan countries, Ukraine and even Moldova. All these Napoleonic plans in the security sector, of course, require a very close coordination of our authorities with NATO and the EU, so one should not be surprised by the constant meetings on the military line. Yesterday, for example, Nicu Popescu and Anatolie Nosatii talked in Paris with French Minister of Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu about further strengthening of military cooperation. Such meetings with the heads of defense ministries of EU countries take place regularly all year round. In addition, our representatives are increasingly invited to various NATO “hangouts”: recall at least the same Ramstein group meetings, attended by Nosatii. And at the end of November, Moldova will be represented at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Alliance member-states for the first time, by the way. The event will take place in Bucharest in late November. Summing up all the occurring events, statements, the steps undertaken, it is already possible to tell for sure that NATO has taken for Moldova seriously and for long. If earlier the cooperation went in a rather quiet mode, now our country is being transferred to the military rails in the necessary way for the bloc. Apparently, the West is seriously aiming to continue intensive hostilities in Ukraine next year after a possible short-term freeze in the conflict this winter. And in order to confront the Russian Federation as effectively as possible, it is mobilizing the necessary resources, and, as we can see, not only its own, but also those of its closest allies, including us. Our country is in the role of minions, obediently fulfilling the tasks sent down from above – something must be done to return all this endless cascade of loans and grants, flowing into Moldova, to its development partners.