Is Moldova Being Prepared to Join NATO?

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In the coming years, cooperation between Moldova and NATO is expected to “reach a new level”, official statements say
Semyon ALBU, RTA: 2023 was the year of our country’s continuing plunge into the abyss of futility and hopelessness. The economy was hit by recession and debt bondage, politics by the authoritarian habits of Sandu and PAS, and the social sector by growing poverty and increasing waves of emigration. The new year is not expected to bring positive changes. The “non-development” budget for 2024 turned out to be so “good” that it was criticized even by the Soros Foundation, which is a quite loyal to the current government. However, while cutting the expenses for education, social protection, infrastructure, etc., the authorities did not forget to allocate more money for defense. In total, our military budget has reached almost two billion lei. The responsible officials, justifying themselves, point out that it is still not that much in relative numbers – “just” 0.65% of the GDP. However, in a poor country with all kinds of problems, is it really worth pouring money into this very sector? The question is rhetorical. Still, it is clear that our Western partners, who are training their “yellow” tame crew to militarize the state they have captured, are running the show. This started almost immediately after the PAS came to power. Do you remember the famous American aircrafts with weapons at the Chisinau airport? And after the conflict in Ukraine, the militarization of the consciousness among the ruling party tops quickly reached its limits. Since then, there has been nothing but talk about the importance of bolstering the national army. The West is actively helping us in this endeavor. It is difficult even to count the number of all sorts of joint training exercises, drills and war games that took place last year. In general, there were at least two or three, if not more, held each month. High-ranking Western military officers visited our country, not only to observe the combat alignment of Moldovan and NATO contingents, but also to hold meetings with our politicians and officials. In fact, we had the highest level of bilateral contacts last year, including with the Alliance leadership represented by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and his deputy Mircea Geoana. But, of course, it is not enough simply to train our soldiers in NATO tactics - it is important to provide them with the appropriate weaponry as well. That’s exactly what happened. While “civilian” monetary aid has clearly shrunk compared to 2022, and is expected to shrink further in the coming year, everything is fine with military support. Funds are flowing from the European Peace Foundation, which has already sent three tranches and is preparing a fourth, and from the U.S. budget, as well as from other partners. We are receiving cargoes with weapons and equipment regularly. Armored personnel carriers, infantry weapons and equipment, drones, off-road vehicles, mine detectors – there’s nothing you can’t find in the range of supplies. The geography of donors is also expanding: the usual US, EU and Romania are now joined by Poland and France. Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the alliance, a new breakthrough in cooperation with our country is being prepared. They have decided to revise the model of relations with partner countries by introducing the “one partner - one plan” concept. The latter suggests that all programmes and instruments of interaction, for example, with Moldova, will be combined into one big mechanism called “Individually Tailored Partnership Programme”. In our country, it will replace the well-known IPAP concluded since 2006. The current IPAP is extended for this year, but the new ITPP will be ready by 2025, for four years ahead. Of course, our rulers hailed such initiatives, preparing to substantially negotiate the cooperation plans with NATO in the coming years. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration will conduct the talks. In general, it has long been clear where the wind is blowing. The neutrality, still enshrined in the constitution, has long been of no confusion to anyone; it is not even mentioned in the new national security strategy. Defense Minister Anatolie Nosatii says the development of the country’s defense capacity in accordance with NATO standards is a strategic goal. At the same time, he doesn’t hesitate to talk about joining this military bloc and that for this purpose it is necessary to change the basic law and convince the population. The regime will have no problems with the former - the example of the Moldovan language, which was erased from the Constitution by a simple law, is more than illustrative. The situation with the population’s support is a bit more complicated, but not fatal. Of course, a major part of the population does not yet support the hypothetical accession to NATO, but on the other hand, there are already about 30% of those who favour such a decision. This is quite a good result, given the fact that campaigning has not even started yet. To reach the indicator of “50+” is not a quick task, but it won’t take decades. It can be done in a couple of years, especially since the media sphere has been privatized by the ruling party and Ministry of Propaganda is officially operating in the country under the guise of the Patriot Centre. And while the community outreach continues, the country will accelerate, in the last effort and with Western support, the army’s transition to NATO standards and purchase expensive weapons. I believe, the purpose of this endeavor needs no special explanation. The fact that last year we started to receive air defense systems, which are now in short supply, is very telling and testifies to the already formalized plans to make Moldova part of its military perimeter. In fact, the Alliance is already actively taking over our territory. It is just a matter of officially documenting the de facto situation. If necessary, the NATO umbrella over us will open very quickly, as it happened with supposedly “neutral” Finland and will soon happen with equally supposedly “neutral” Sweden. This necessity may arise, for example, in the case of Ukraine’s downfall and the advance of Russian troops in the western direction. The fact that Kyiv will lose the war in one way or another is now quite obvious, which means that Moldova may soon become a NATO border zone. With all that entails.