Although Moldova will not become an official NATO member in the coming years, the fundamental decision to include it in the bloc’s unified military-operational command system has apparently already been made
Recently, the country’s armed forces celebrated another anniversary of their founding quite pompous, even though it was not a jubilee. However, there was an embarrassment with torch processions, which the Ministry of Defense called “a symbolic moment rooted in deep antiquity”. Such an epic “creativity” from the military, evoking quite obvious and unpleasant associations, somehow blurred the general background, but did not reduce the level of solemnity among the political regime, which for the last year and a half has made military affairs one of its priorities.
The significance of the celebration was emphasized by the abundance of speeches, quite remarkable in their content. For instance, Maia Sandu said that the government is working to compensate for the “period of neglect” of the defense sector. In her opinion, by mobilizing internal resources and with the help of strategic partners, the government has achieved a significant increase in budgetary allocations to modernize the National Army (which is true), and Moldovan military should now have modern equipment and quality training to perform their duties.
The prime minister claimed that the armed forces are not just defense forces, but “an expression of the entire Moldovan nation’ solidarity”, and this role requires care and development. Recean is sure that the experience of other neutral countries, such as Switzerland, proves that a well-equipped army only strengthens national security, and neutrality is just a foreign policy tool. Finally, Defense Minister Anatol Usatii said at the festive ceremony that the National Army is undergoing a complex modernization, which will allow to strengthen its capabilities. At the same time, he said that the competence of the Moldovan military is highly appreciated, so that Moldova can be not only a security consumer, but also a regional supplier, for which it has all the possibilities.
It is quite symbolic that the United States Ambassador to Moldova personally participated in the ceremonial events. This, first and foremost, shows Washington’s increased political and diplomatic attention to our military defense sector, which is manifested in specific political decisions taken by the United States. I refer to targeted financial assistance and military-technical support, which began even before the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine and continues to this day. Thus, in early August the USA handed over a shipment of weapons worth more than 3 million dollars to the National Army.
The European Union is also making considerable contribution to boosting the potential of the Moldovan armed forces, with three tranches of assistance totaling 87 million euros being already allocated through the European Peace Facility for the purchase of military equipment, including radar. According to Anatolie Nosatii, the radar station will be put into operation by the end of the year. The personnel, who will be engaged in its maintenance, have already been trained. All that remains is to wait for delivery, installation and commissioning. In addition, as known, another system will be purchased with EU funding to complement the first station in order to improve early warning of airspace safety.
Noteworthy is also the visit of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe Christopher Cavoli, who, in addition to taking part in the celebration, met with the Moldovan government and the defense ministry. The visit of such a high-ranking NATO general is another indicator of the alliance’s focused attention on Moldova and its army.
Analyzing what the American military officer said during his stay in our country, we can outline the fact that NATO will continue to support the National Army, as the bloc has a set of tools to expand cooperation with partner countries, among which Moldova has long been a member. Today, support to our state is provided through these very tools. The first step in this direction is a well-defined plan and vision for the development of the armed forces.
It would be quite naive to say that a visit to Chisinau by an army official of such a level as Cavoli had only protocol and political connotations. Around mid-August he held a meeting with the Ukrainian military command headed by General Zaluzhnyi, where, according to sources, the tactics of the Ukrainian armed forces on the front line were reviewed and Western recommendations were voiced to Kyiv. After that, counteroffensive actions of the AFU changed, leading to the breakthrough of the first line of Russian defense in Zaporizhzhia.
Meanwhile, Christopher Cavoli in an interview with the Moldovan press said that the alliance had moved to a new command concept, which had been introduced to the leadership of the Moldovan Defense Ministry. Consequently, there is reason to believe that, given what is happening in the center of Russian-Ukrainian hostilities, the NATO representative came to Chisinau with a certain set of intelligence data and recommendations. I assume that our authorities were advised to be ready for any scenario and, above all, for possible Russian offensive operations. Judging by the very poor results of the negotiations between Erdogan and Putin, as well as the improbability of the grain deal’s resumption and the lifting of the blockade from the western part of the Black Sea, the risks of landing operations and other military actions of the Russian Federation are increasing.
The Defense Ministry has aptly announced new training camps on September 25-29, where it is planned to test the skills of reservists and familiarize them with new equipment, gear and weapons of the National Army. But no matter how conventional the army press releases look, one thing is obvious: the ministry is actively working to ensure combat coherence, studying the mobilization capacity and honing its ability to quickly enlist more or less adequate numbers of military personnel in case of need.
The current build-up of the armed forces’ capacity is basically connected with the need to balance the apparent overweight of the total military contingent of the Russian Federation and the left-bank para-military structures. One way or another, they can restrain the actions of the Moldovan army units and prevent them from sending all available forces into the southern regions of the country, which are in the zone of direct danger in case of military operations from the sea and the Danube delta.
After the July NATO Summit, it became clear that no one is going to officially admit either Moldova or Ukraine to the alliance, but making both countries part of a unified military-operational command system is a realistic and feasible task. While Ukraine is already deeply integrated into the NATO systems and is in close coordination with the Alliance command centers, Chisinau was on the periphery of attention for a while. However, times are changing and, apparently, a fundamental decision on Moldova’s inclusion in NATO’s unified command system has already been made.