A month and a half later, it becomes obvious that briefing by Maia Sandu on the Russian destabilization plan and the hybrid war against Moldova has become a kind of trigger aimed at, firstly, including our country on the Western agenda, and, secondly, tightly linking us with the conflict developments in Ukraine. After that, a rather extraordinary chain of events was launched, which, apparently, is approaching its, at least, intermediate denouement.
Vladimir ROTAR, RTA:
Every day brings more and more details in the Moldovan puzzle, which makes it difficult to read the full picture of current events. Nevertheless, the filing of the available facts, combined with the statements of officials and various insiders, prompts curious thoughts.
So, the first fact is that international attention to Moldova has increased manifold, even in comparison with last year. Moreover, it is important that our leadership has its ear among the most iconic Western political figures. In the past two months, Maia Sandu met with the president of the most powerful state globally, one of the key officials of the European Union and the leader of the EU powerhouse. You can consider these meetings only as a manifestation of the highest support, but this is a very simplified view. It is more likely that they were talking about things that are so significant in terms of consequences for Moldova that they should have been voiced to our president at such a high level.
The second fact is that the international activity of both Moldova and around it has tilted very strongly towards militarism, especially this year. That very landmark briefing by Maia Sandu, where she spoke about the Russian plan to destabilize our country – apparently, at the request and at the suggestion of external partners – transferred our relations with the West to “wartime footing”. Soon, the EU will send a sort of civilian security mission to Moldova, which will deal with “the fight against hybrid threats”. In addition, we hear daily reports of an increase and new forms of military support for Moldova both from separate countries and from NATO generally.
The third fact is also related to it; regular visits to us by high-ranking Western security officials. Coming this week is General Patrick Ellis, Deputy Chief of Staff of the US Army Europe and Africa Operations Directorate, who will visit the Bulboaca training facility. Prior, Gen. Stephen Edwards, Head of US Special Operations Command Europe, and Gen. William J. Hartman, Commander of Cyber National Mission Force, came to Moldova. The assignments I have named say it all and hint at what these guests could really discuss with our military leadership.
What does all this mean? Moldova has already clearly been woven into the fabric of the Ukrainian conflict with the full consent of our authorities, who either had no choice, or the will or desire to oppose it. It was important to do it right now, on the eve of the upcoming Ukrainian counteroffensive. Although the strategic perspective, of course, is much more distant.
Apparently, the resumption of active hostilities will begin in the coming weeks. This is evidenced not only by the statements of American officials, but also by the incoming information from the field. By all appearances, despite the skeptical materials in the Western media, the Ukrainians are well prepared for a future offensive. While poorly trained mobilized and territorial defense forces were fighting in Bakhmut, large reserves of trained military, including overseas trainig, were accumulated in the rear, as well as large stocks of armored vehicles, artillery and aviation. Most likely, much more Western heavy equipment was sent to Ukrainian troops than was officially announced.
But even taking into account these advantages, opening up a layered defense is a risky undertaking, and Kyiv, due to the huge inequality of forces and potentials, cannot afford even an equal exchange of losses with the enemy. I am sure that the “Battle of the Sea of Azov” will definitely include tactical surprises for the Russians in order to “pull” their attention and resources into several theaters of operations. There are many options – it could even be an invasion of Russian territory, for example, in the Belgorod Region.
However, one of the most obvious options remains the Transnistrian region of Moldova, because the small and lightly armed Russian task force located there is an easy target. It is very likely that the start of the Ukrainian counter-offensive provides for some kind of strike against these forces, either in the form of a large operation or a local activities, with, say, the seizure of weapons depots in Cobasna Village and the capture of its garrison. These actions will have to provoke the Russian Federation to divert forces, even missile forces, and preferably landing forces, for actions in this direction, which is obviously unprofitable for the Russians.
Thus, the Moldovan territory will be directly affected by the war, which, perhaps, was discussed at Maia Sandu’s meetings with Western leaders. Now she will have to measure up to her statements that “Moldova, together with Ukraine, ensures the security of the EU borders”.
At the same time, they certainly promised us that the whole operation would be quick, and that Russia’s response moves would be neutralized. And here an important role is assigned to Romania, whose president is very closely involved in Moldovan affairs and constantly communicates with Sandu and her foreign contacts, sometimes, as in the case of Scholz, in a tripartite format. Bucharest specifically should help to cope with the regional crisis phenomena, which are inevitable if Moldova is involved in the war. This includes the suppression of protests, let us recall the regular joint exercises of Police Special Forces, and the introduction of the necessary task forces, including missile defense, to cover potential points of landings and missile strikes. I will not be surprised that the necessary equipment, machinery and people are ready for transferring to the republic.
What are the odds of that happening? In my opinion, it is highly likely. Moreover, the fact that the two banks recently signed a six-month contract for the supply of electricity from MGRES Power Plant is not a major asset. The local affairs of Moldova in a situation where the stakes are so high are unlikely to be taken into account when planning strategic operations.
Even if this time Moldova could survive another escalation in the Ukrainian conflict without direct involvement, it seems almost inevitable if the current trajectory of the war is maintained. After all, the coming counter-offensive, whether successful or not, will not be the last military operation, no matter how some European leaders try to present it. On the contrary, NATO is preparing a program of multi-year military assistance to Ukraine, realizing the probability of a protracted war. So the Moldavian card will definitely play in due time. We will find out very soon, whether it will come in the coming weeks.