The Russians Are Coming! | Why Is the Military Threat to Moldova Being Promoted?

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Sergiu CEBAN
The authorities continue to prepare the population for major reforms in defense and state security to be implemented already next year  
As soon as Maia Sandu returned from the U.S., Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu came to visit us almost immediately. In fact, this is not surprising: our leadership has been constantly coordinating its actions with Bucharest lately, and after the talks in Washington, it was a must to talk to our senior partner. On the eve of the Romanian minister’s visit, Parliament Speaker Igor Grosu, apparently in an attempt to please our Transprutian friends, announced that starting next spring the phrase “Romanian language” will replace the phrase “Moldovan language” in the current legislation. It is not quite clear what prevented the speaker from being concerned about this issue earlier. But since the deputies have decided to start such important and urgent work, then, presumably, it must have some context. For example, the beginning of integration negotiations with the European Union, where the Romanian language is one of the official languages. Meanwhile, Head of the SIS Alexandru Musteata in his own way prefaced the visit of Bogdan Aurescu by saying to a Romanian TV channel that Russia was not giving up the idea of creating a land corridor to Transdniestria. And, as Musteata put it, it’s not even a question of whether Moscow will launch an offensive in the direction of our borders, but only when it will do so. Many began to look for hidden intentions in this statement and, perhaps, even the desire of Chisinau and Bucharest to switch to more concrete measures of military support. However, after Musteata’s speech literally blew up the information space, his own press service was forced to clarify and smooth over the chief’s statements. Even Aurescu did not stand aside: he said that at this stage Romania does not see a military threat to Moldova, but if such a situation occurs, the Romanian authorities will discuss the necessary measures with their Moldovan partners. A little later, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis spoke in a similar tone. Nevertheless, the information marathon about potential threats to our state seems to be only gaining momentum. This is confirmed by the recent revelations of the Secretary of the Supreme Security Council, Dorin Recean. According to him, “Chisinau plans to import as many lethal weapons as it can” and, although there is not much money, “Moldova wants to contribute to regional security.” Moreover, Recean says it is important for the authorities to convince people to support the allocation of money for defense and national security. After these words, everything somehow fell into place. Moreover, it became much clearer what these media tricks about an expected attack by the Kremlin, which is now conducting mostly defensive measures in the occupied Ukrainian territories, were for. No one is going to argue about the likelihood of a Russian invasion scenario, but attempts by our officials to adjust public sentiment to specific decisions and government documents look primitive and not very far-sighted. As is known, Maia Sandu has officially launched work on a new draft of the National Security Strategy to replace the current one, which is more than ten years old. Attempts to approach this document were also made by previous presidents, but in the end, no one dared to touch this heavy artillery piece. In the meantime, problems have been and are still being piled up, and Moldova continues to live without a clear reference point in a harsh and aggressive geopolitical environment. At the same time, this year, some officials involved in security issues in one way or another were stipulating some principles on the basis of which the document would be built. For example, already in September, Recean stated that in order to preserve the stability of the state, it is no longer possible to rely only on foreign policy instruments, one of which is the status of neutrality. Therefore, Moldova must work to improve its defense capabilities and enlist the conscious support of its citizens in this regard. It is expected that the new Strategy, based on the changed realities, will identify appropriate methods to overcome risks and threats. And citizens, in turn, will feel confident that, in a difficult situation, state institutions will be able to fulfill one of their primary responsibilities – to protect the population and territory of the country from impending dangers. In addition, it will provide an important impetus for updating the legal framework and, as experts believe, will help to formulate a clear vision on the most complex issues: from neutrality to the Transdniestrian settlement. We need clarity and certainty now more than ever, and the speed with which we are working on some basic documents is another confirmation of the fact that our Western partners demand precise and unambiguous positions from us in the first place. We must bear in mind that sooner or later negotiations on the strategic status of the post-Soviet territories will begin. Another round of negotiations by the patriarch of American diplomacy, Henry Kissinger, is clear evidence that the West is ready to sit down with Moscow and offer it new terms and rules of the game. It is worth recalling that a year ago the failure of US-Russian talks on strategic security and the West’s refusal to accept the Kremlin’s ultimatums was a trigger for a serious political-military crisis on the European continent. It is unlikely that a new system or architecture of European security will take shape by itself. Therefore, it is obvious that everyone is “doomed” to a great continental dialogue on how to coexist further, and it is important for us to be on the right side of history. For all solidarity with Ukraine and its desire to restore its territorial integrity, Chisinau is still interested in the earliest possible conclusion of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, up to freezing the current line of demarcation between the two sides. Such fixation of the status quo would, at the very least, remove our leadership’s fears about a potential rush of Russian troops to our state borders. No matter how cynical this may look towards our Ukrainian neighbors, but pragmatism suggests that right now it is extremely important for Moldova to buy time and stay deep in the rear of the frozen confrontation between Kyiv and Moscow. This would allow it to prepare properly for integration into Western institutions and to create the necessary legal instruments to resolve its political, territorial and security issues in a conventional way, without unnecessary military upheaval.