“Deliberate Militarization” of Moldova

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Victor ENI
Western partners continue to weaponize Moldova, including lethal weapons, doing so in a deliberately demonstrative way. For what?
Lately, we have monitored a new spike in attention to the country’s defense sector. Recently, members of the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee visited us and met with the leadership of the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as civil society leaders. The purpose of the visit was discussion of the long-term partnership between the United States and Moldova. Our authorities, thanking the American congressmen for supporting the “young Moldovan democracy”, told about the ongoing work on the national security strategy, the program of reforms and modernization of the country. However, the main attention, apparently, was paid to complaints about attempts to destabilize the republic and Russian hybrid war. In fact, the guests from across the ocean did not come empty-handed, as the military aid worth of several million dollars arrived at the same time as the visit. The generous donation was made within the framework of modernizing the National Army and increasing Moldova’s defense capacity. Curiously, the agreement on this assistance had been concluded back in 2019, but it was decided to bring it now. The American Embassy in Chisinau reported that in 31 years, the U.S. government, through the European Command, has allocated more than $123 million in military assistance to Moldova, providing and training our troops and more than $36 million in humanitarian aid requested by the current government. Most likely, our Ministry of Defense put the provided military aid for all to see precisely at the request of the American sponsor. As it turned out, the list included NATO sniper rifles and automatic rifles, defense equipment and drones for demining. According to the US representatives, the new equipment will allow Moldova to organize, train and equip its forces more effectively, as well as “to be better prepared to defend its neutrality and contribute to peace and stability in the region”. Fascinating statements, indeed, that raise more questions rather than give answers. Especially in terms of who we will need to defend our neutrality with these weapons from and when. It is obvious that the military-technical cooperation with the United States has gone beyond non-lethal nature and is done in a deliberate and showy manner.  There is no doubt that all this fuss is just another episode in the geopolitical confrontation between the United States and Russia, which are actively pressing each other in different geographical locations. In this case, Washington has made another move with its pawn, threating to one of the rival figures. Nevertheless, our authorities, amidst the diplomatic scandal and deteriorating relations with Moscow, continue to accept this kind of moral, political and symbolic military assistance both directly from the United States and from the NATO countries. By the way, Romanian Defense Minister Angel Tilvar, who visited Chisinau earlier this week, also brought a consignment of “military toys”, which are listed as personal protection equipment. The military cargo consists of protective helmets, body armor and cars. According to Tilvar, Bucharest is ready to continue modernizing the National Army not only through joint programs and projects, but also through quite specific military supplies. In mid-June, Moldova and Romania signed the Defense Cooperation Plan for 2023. Therefore, our Ministry of Defense does not intend to lose momentum and expects that our Romanian colleagues will help us to join as a full member of the Platform for Politico-Military Dialogue - Regional Initiative of the South-Eastern Europe Defense Ministerial - Coordination Committee (SEDM) - in the near future. Especially given the fact that Romania took over the chairmanship of this organization on 1 July. The assistance comes not only from the United States and Romania. A few months earlier, Moldova received an equally substantial amount of military aid from Poland, which sent us six cargo planes with weapons, ammunition and equipment in early June. In fact, the recipient was the General Police Inspectorate, which received from the Polish authorities’ equipment for official use and outfits for personnel intended to ensure law enforcement and maintain police readiness. This month, the Czech Republic is to open a military attaché’s office in Moldova in order to establish bilateral defense cooperation. As you know, the Czech Republic is experiencing the biggest boom in the arms industry in 30 years due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and the high demand for weapons in the EU. Apparently, our authorities have plans for long-term orders for the manufacture of specific NATO-style weapons in order to carry out a profound military reform of the domestic armed forces and ensure compliance with NATO armies. As for funding, money for this will probably be found and given. Since December 2021, the European Union alone, through the European Peace Foundation, has allocated 87 million euros to us for army modernization, 80 of which were given after the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Previously, the funds were used to strengthen the capacity of various units of the country’s armed forces. In May, USA announced 2 billion dollars in military support for various countries, Moldova was one of them. During the European Political Community Summit, Maia Sandu confirmed that our country would receive military equipment worth 87 million euros through European funds. There is no official information about what exactly has been and will be purchased with this money, but most likely it is about the delivery of the airspace monitoring system announced by Defense Minister Anatolie Nosatii. In addition, it is known that our military body negotiated the purchase of a French-made GM 200 radar system. After the NATO Summit in Vilnius ended without particular results not only for Kyiv but also for Chisinau, which had expected a clearer military and political message from the alliance, the U.S. seems to apply individual forms of support and militarize individual countries at its will. Therefore, the recent shipment of military aid seems to be not the last in the growing geopolitical confrontation in the Northern Black Sea region. The USA, having “taken us on board”, has crossed the dangerous line of the power’s balance preserved here for years. So, depending on the course of events, we may see even more serious arms deliveries to Moldova in the future. Perhaps, for our local militarists, all these processes are a good sign, allowing them to hope for a rematch with Russia and the expulsion of its military and peacekeepers from the territory of Moldova. Another thing is whether it is in the interests of the country to weaponize and get involved in military gambles during the period of a regional volatility, taking into account possible risks and consequences.