Opinion: Moldova Seems to Have Seriously Annoyed Russia

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This year, the Moldovan authorities proved to be particularly remarkable in their anti-Russian policy, and are likely to get a response from Moscow after all
Semyon ALBU, RTA: The ruling regime continues to raze relations with Russia with mule-like stubbornness. Any political negotiations with the Russians are strictly taboo. Having joined most of the European sanctions against Russia, Moldova is demonstratively and speedily leaving the CIS, rupturing numerous agreements concluded during its membership in the Commonwealth. The draft of the new national security strategy lists Russia as the main enemy and accuses it of all sins: hybrid warfare, attempts at destabilization and coup d’état, interference in electoral and internal political processes. No one even bothers to observe any politeness. Top leaders like Speaker Grosu publicly call the Russian president a war criminal and a dictator. Everything related to Russia in our country gets the status of ‘undesirable’ and ‘threatening’. The Russian language is displaced by the state wherever possible. Any politicians who are not openly anti-Russian are stigmatized and persecuted. Media not willing to berate the Kremlin 24/7 are shut down. The Russian embassy in Moldova was dramatically downsized under a mocking pretext. And no one is going to stop this anti-Russian frenzy. Judging by the latest statements and actions, in the near future the authorities are going to raise the stakes even more and raise the issue of withdrawal of the task force of Russian troops in the Transnistrian region and peacekeepers. That is, to cross that dangerous line in Moldovan-Russian relations behind which lies complete obscurity. A year and a half ago, official Chisinau bet everything on Ukraine, siding with its most loyal and close allies. Not only did the current regime give up the principle of neutrality, which even in the first months was barely observed only out of fear that Russian troops would reach the Moldovan borders, but also it decided for some reason that along with selfless loyalty to Kyiv it is necessary to anger the Russian bear to the utmost. In politics, and in life in general, putting all your eggs in one basket is often not the best idea. But what can you demand from the braindead grant recipients and grabbers from the ruling party, who, in addition to total corruption, have only two basic programs implanted in their heads: European integration and support for Ukraine. And they are fulfilled against everything, even the national interests of their country. The wisest policy, as farmers would attest. By the end of 2023, we see intermediate, but already very dire consequences. The social and economic crisis is growing, while the budget is adopted with a huge deficit. Moreover, a significant part of external loans covering it will be taken to... repay the old ones. Yes, the same “debt spiral” that my colleagues and I have been writing about regularly over the past few years. I guess you remember under what regime this loan portfolio suddenly reached incredible volumes. But instead of dealing with the really vital problems that are causing the population to migrate out of the country at an unprecedented rate, the government keeps moving forward without changing its strategy and tactics, cutting ties with the Russian Federation, while failing to notice how the global and regional situation is changing dramatically and that its ideological dyad is crumbling. Its first pillar, European integration, runs the risk of being hit hard at the next EU Council, which will not open accession negotiations. There are plenty of contradictions in the European camp: there is an obvious economic recession even in the locomotive countries like Germany, and a lot of other problems which many people will not want to multiply with the potential accession of Ukraine and Moldova. Although, in my opinion, even in case of a positive verdict, it will make no difference to us. Have you noticed any progress during a year and a half in a country with EU candidate status? You bet. The second pillar, the victory of Ukraine, causes even more confusion since the chances of it are now more elusive than ever. To the disappointment of our feeble-minded authorities, the calculation for Russia’s military defeat has totally failed. Yes, at one point it seemed possible, but now the situation has drastically changed. Despite the sanctions, the Russian Federation registers GDP growth. A record military budget for next year has been approved. Once on the rails of war, the defense industry is stepping up production of drones, missiles, and equipment. Supplies of military products from Iran and DPRK are already in place. The situation on the battlefield is also slowly altering. The Russians are succeeding in almost all areas of the front. Although their success is so far local, the very fact that they are pushing through defenses of the Ukrainian armed forces everywhere points to a shift in trend. One can easily notice that the number of videos with damaged Ukrainian equipment and dead soldiers has multiplied. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation puts from 20 (according to Ukrainian intelligence) to 40 (according to Russian reports) thousand people into service every month. And that’s even without an officially announced mobilization. Meanwhile, the mobilization norms in Ukraine itself are failing these days, often by ten times or more. The flow of financial and military aid has sharply decreased. There are many reasons for this: the exhaustion of Western arsenals and the inability to quickly ramp up the necessary production, the general loss of interest towards Ukraine due to the failed counteroffensive and the war in the Middle East, the arrival of right-wing politicians in EU countries, for example, in the Netherlands and Slovakia, who have no plans to supply Kyiv with weapons. Even such ‘loyal’ countries as Bulgaria and the Czech Republic are already joining the ranks of those who opt out. In Ukraine itself tensions are growing between the generals and the presidential office, while Volodymyr Zelensky warns of a ‘pro-Russian Maidan’. In general, the trend in the Russian-Ukrainian confrontation is changing dramatically, and it is impossible not to spot that. Unless you are a Moldovan politician from the cohort of ‘good people’ who in the “see-nothing-hear-nothing” mode keeps on getting into trouble like an idiot. Apparently, we can congratulate Sandu and PAS, this is where they indeed succeeded. So, thanks to the efforts of our authorities, Moldova is again in the focus of the Kremlin’s close attention. Russian patriotic projects have started to systematically cover the situation in and around our country, and not in a favorable way, as you understand. In turn, they ‘warm up’ statements of quite official persons – all sorts of deputies, senators, diplomats, including the speaker of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova, who speaks about Moldova at almost every briefing. And recently her chief made a very unambiguous reservation that our republic will be “the next victim of the hybrid war against Russia”. This was interpreted by many in our country as a poorly disguised threat. It is clear that earlier Moscow decided to freeze the Moldovan track in its policy for a while, in order not to scatter its efforts and resources, and did not even respond to all the hostile actions of our authorities. But now, sensing the momentum and shifts in the Ukrainian conflict, Russia is changing its tactics, again ‘warming up’ the Moldovan direction for further actions. Thus, after the insignificant entry bans on some deputies of the ruling party, the Russian Federation responded with a more serious measure by banning the import of Moldovan fruits and vegetables. Given the percentage of such products destined for Russia, this is a rather sensitive step, especially when farmer protests are still underway. This seems to be just a preemptive shot in the air, while real problems for official Chisinau will start in the future, especially in case of some rash decisions in the key area of security. So far, Ukraine shields our regime from ‘close contact’, but recent events make one ponder if the “Russian hordes” will at some point get much closer than is expected in PAS.