Moldova and Ukrainian Counteroffensive

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If the regional key players can agree, Moldova may face interesting developments simultaneously with the Ukrainian counteroffensive
Semen ALBU, RTA: I think everyone noticed increased activity in the Moldova-Romania-Ukraine triangle. Maia Sandu’s trips to Bucha and Bucharest, the visit to Chisinau paid by the Romanian leadership, another meeting of the foreign and defence ministers of the three countries in the Romanian capital. All these events took place in recent weeks. It is clear that their discussions were not about trade and culture issues. The war is on the agenda, and its most important stage is probably the most historically widely advertised and announced counter-offensive. The West presents it as almost a decisive assault of the war in Ukraine, which will “decide everything”. This, of course, is a PR stunt, but in general, the stakes on it are huge. If successful, the “counterattack” can change a lot, if not the whole situation. Over the past year, we have seen that the Ukrainian army is a very serious force, which proved to be effective both in defence and in dashing raids on Russian positions forcing the Russian army to leave large areas in the Kharkiv and Kherson Regions. Now, however, the situation is different. This time, the Russians are preparing for defence much more thoughtfully, digging throughout the battlefield. Satellite images show many kilometres of trench lines across entire regions of Ukraine, including Zaporizhzhia. The same is evidenced by the Ukrainian military: the Russians are fortifying every day. In general, no cakewalk is expected for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and they have not yet attacked well-developed enemy positions. It is clear that even if the “counter-offensive” fails, no one will immediately stop military support for Ukraine, no matter what some high-ranking Western officials say. But defeat and heavy losses can instigate the fatigue in Ukraine, critically reduce the morale of the troops, trigger a domino effect, create favourable conditions for a Russian repost, and other unpleasant consequences. The stakes are high, so I am sure the preparations are the most serious. And the Ukrainians are hardly going to fight head-on in in a narrow defence area, as the Russians do in the Donbass. They cannot afford such waste in terms of both soldiers and time, the resources are different. Therefore, we could see unexpected simultaneous moves and attacks in many directions, the “tactic of a thousand bites”, with swarms of drones attacking Moscow, explosions at important infrastructure facilities, direct invasion by relatively large forces, for example, several brigades, and large-scale cyber-attacks, alongside the general battle for the “Crimean Land Corridor”. These strikes will have to “tear up” the attention of the Russian command, spread panic among people, which would force the Kremlin to make decisions that are politically necessary, but military unfavourable, as well as to transfer reserves to secondary battlefield areas, etc. Here we come back to Transnistria with current apparent lull after the failed “Ukrainian invasion” on February 24. In my opinion, the silence here is a temporary phenomenon, since the security risks have remained the same. And the only thing that probably keeps the peace on the left bank is the contradictions between the regional stakeholders. Kyiv, of course, wants to unfreeze the Transnistrian conflict in order to drag other countries into the war and inflict a painful defeat on the Russian Federation. Our leadership has been unresponsive to such urges so far, largely because they are at odds with Romania’s plans. Our trans-Prut brothers are in full swing with the scenario of a soft takeover of Moldova followed by legal implementation of the Unirea in new edition. And they absolutely do not need any shake-ups on the Dniester, which could disrupt this long-term process, which has just approached the finish line. After all, war is an unpredictable affair, and it is difficult to foresee what will finally happen to the Moldovan territory. Not to mention that in case of a flare-up on the Dniester, flows of Moldovan refugees will pour into Romania, requiring deployment of Romanian task force and other risky steps. On the other hand, such a position is not set in stone and may well change under the pressure of circumstances. Romania, being even a more independent player than Moldova, is still only a junior partner of predatory western sharks, primarily of the United States, and is forced to follow in the wake of their interests within the Black Sea region. So, if the world hegemon has decided that it is time to restore the Transnistrian conflict in view of developments on the Ukrainian battlefield, no one could really oppose to it. This is where all this “triangular diplomacy” comes from: to discuss plans for the future and the role of all sides of an obviously non-isosceles triangle in it. Of course, we are not talking directly about the necessary occupation of Transnistria by the Romanian and Ukrainian troops. It is quite possible that Bucharest and Kyiv could agree on a compromise-limited provocation, in Cobasna, for instance. Moreover, the other day, Defence Minister Anatolie Nosatîi suddenly announced that ammunition could be “taken out” from the warehouse in Cobasna. What is not a reason to” settle the issue”? Even a localized invasion of the garrison at this strategic Russian facility would be a good distraction as part of a general counteroffensive. The comprehensive involvement of our country in the war may occur later, as we are properly prepared. We have time: after all, as it turned out from the leaks of secret Pentagon documents, the Americans believe that the war will last for a long time and therefore they are already drafting plans of confrontation for upcoming years. At least, judging by the gestures of our authorities, Moldova can abandon its neutrality and increase unprecedentedly cooperation with NATO. Fortunately, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana has declared that the Alliance is ready to go as far as the Republic of Moldova is willing to deepen bilateral relations with NATO. In addition, NATO’s overriding decision is to increase Western aid to Moldova, so that dozens of millions of dollars will inflow to our defence sector this year, along with large military supplies. In the meantime, the EU intends to start on May 22 a two-year mission (do you see the planning time frame?) supporting our republic in counteracting the Russian “destabilizing activities”. Here is an interesting line-up. We shall not wait long until the region starts moving, so we are anxious about the future.