Opinion: “Ukraine Is Increasingly Dragging Moldova in a Mess”

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Our country is facing the growing cost and risks of its infinite support and solidarity with Ukraine. So far, Kyiv has more than once involved Chisinau in risky plots that are of no benefit to Moldovan interests
Semyon ALBU, RTA: As of the beginning of the year, our relations with Ukraine still look fine and smooth at first glance. Domestic politicians do not forget at every opportunity to chant “Slava Ukraini!”, condemn Russian aggression, stress to international partners the importance of supporting our neighbor, and even thank them for it. Such contrived infinite love for Kyiv has its side effects, depriving any flexibility in bilateral relations and freedom of maneuver in cases when something goes wrong. And such cases occur more frequently. For example, let’s consider yesterday’s news which noticeably stirred up our media sphere about an incident with the use of firearms on the Transnistrian section of the border with Ukraine, as a result of which two citizens were “moved” to the Ukrainian territory. The newsmaker, curiously enough, was the so-called “MGB” of the left bank, which gave a quite brief press release, leaving obviously more questions than answers. Later on, however, a representative of the State Border Service of Ukraine denied this information, saying that he knew nothing about such incidents. He described this story as a provocation by a “pro-Russian enclave” in order to “accuse Kyiv of something”. It seems that the above episode actually took place. It is not yet clear why Tiraspol would lie about this, given how carefully it behaves towards Ukraine, trying not to cause trouble and being well aware of own fragile situation. I assume, this is not some move to incite war but rather another attempt by Ukrainian citizens to leave their country to dodge mobilization. Perhaps, the fact that a fairly ordinary case ended in shooting and, apparently, trespassing of Ukrainian border guards into the territory of the region with the “relocation” of some persons is a signal to the Transnistrian administration not to let Ukrainian fugitives in, and maybe even to prevent this illegal traffic. In any case, the story is rather weird, and it is very disturbing that official Chisinau showed almost no response pretending that it did not concern Moldova. Especially since just a day before this incident it was reported that the political representative of Tiraspol, who holds the post of “the Minister of Foreign Affairs”, had been summoned for questioning in a case of “high treason and support of an aggressor country”. He was accused of public calls to change the borders of Ukraine and “carrying out information activities in cooperation with the aggressor state and its occupation administration”. We cannot rule out that the roots of this vague plot grow from Chisinau, and in this way someone in our country wants to further irritate the Transnistrian settlement process or get rid of an inconvenient negotiator. In any case, it puts our authorities in a very delicate position, because in the event of a request from Kyiv, in accordance with the existing agreements, we will have to react somehow and assist in transferring this person to our Ukrainian partners. It was confirmed today by the Prosecutor General’s Office as well. It’s still hard to say what this situation will lead to, but certainly to no good. Speaking of mobilization in Ukraine. We are all aware of the fierce debates in Kyiv over the thematic law that seeks to strengthen the conscription of new recruits into the Ukrainian armed forces amidst the heavy losses suffered during the summer and autumn counter-offensive. Given that domestic reserves have been depleted and that pulling more people out of the economy is fraught with great social and economic upheaval, the authorities of the neighboring country see the way out in bringing back those who somehow managed to leave abroad after the conflict’s outbreak. There are hundreds of thousands of such Ukrainians of conscription age in the EU countries. And the latter are already tossing between the need, on the one hand, to respect human rights and their own legal norms and, on the other hand, to provide this crucial “assistance” to Kyiv and, at the same time, to relieve themselves of the burden of maintaining refugees. As a result, many politicians and military officers, without hesitation, are already proposing to deport Ukrainian citizens in Europe almost directly to the trenches. The official authorities of Western European countries, unable to expel people openly, which would violate every conceivable democratic principle, have decided to take an “indirect route”. That is, they do not expel people directly, however, they significantly tighten the conditions of stay, reduce or cancel benefits, forcing them to return home. At the same time, in younger EU members like Poland and the Baltic states, officials openly talk about the need to return Ukrainians to their homeland in order to take part in hostilities. Apparently, Eastern Europe have not yet had enough time to delve into European values. In our country, however, we could know about them only by hearsay, especially under this government, which is absolutely far from any kind of democratic rights and freedoms. Although this has not been confirmed, according to the media, there have already been cases of removing fleeing Ukrainians back to a neighboring country. And even before the conflict, such issues were solved quite well under the PAS rule. Do you remember the scandalous removal of Ukrainian judge Chaus in the boot of his car? Very soon, Kyiv will almost officially start to demand that measures be taken to return its citizens. Especially since the new mobilization legislation seems to include enrolment of Ukrainians abroad, their enlistment upon receipt of summons and liability in case of non-appearance. That is, Ukraine will create legal terms for requesting the transfer of these “evaders”. Thus, in the near future, our authorities may find themselves in the same situation as their European counterparts. Respecting human rights and own legislation, without jeopardizing the lives of foreign, not their own, citizens is to risk worsening relations with Kyiv and accusations of unwillingness to support the repulsion of aggression. Or extraditing people, which is a violation of human rights, laws and ethical norms, with possible “retaliation” in the form of lawsuits from relatives and the mobilized persons themselves. Recently, our Ukrainian partners “framed” us again. Major-General Oleksiy Taran, head of the Main Doctrine and Training Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, told the press that Ukrainian military personnel were training on the territory of Moldova. At least, we were mentioned in the list of 34 states providing such “services”. And we provide it under the guidance of the Americans - well, there was no doubt. What exactly the Ukrainian military and recruits are taught in our country is unknown. And why should our society know this, right, dear authorities? That the Ukrainian soldiers are trained here foreseeably triggered a scandal. It is clear that our neutrality under the new government is, in general, fake, and no one in the PAS has ever bothered to observe the constitution. But this news is out of the blue. It’s funny that the Ukrainian general did not even try to follow politeness and avoid mentioning our country in order not to “rat us out”. He seems to have deliberately put Moldova in the list of assistants in order to annoy Moscow even more. However, it is always, and especially today, important for Kyiv to demonstrate to its society and the world the all-round support for itself, so it does not “care” about our interests. Of course, Russia was confused by this maneuver and summoned our ambassador, informing him of retaliatory sanctions in the form of a ban on entry for another group of our citizens. Well, formally not for this, but for our other anti-Russian moves which are numerous. However, it is clear that participation in the training of Ukrainian armed forces units, which the Russians regarded in a threatening manner as “disregard for the neutral status” and “involvement in hostilities on the side of Kyiv”, served as a trigger. As we can see, our country is facing the growing costs and risks of supporting Ukraine, but no one is going to turn away from this path. We are still following the general Western line, supporting all the necessary documents and initiatives – for instance, condemning the DPRK’s ballistic missile deliveries to Russia. Or joining the enhanced “agreement on the register of damage caused by the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine”, even with the obligation of annual contributions on our part. Meanwhile, the authorities are still not going to raise more intricate issues within the framework of cooperation with Ukraine, which have always been enough. So, it is in vain that our farmers continue to urge and hope for some kind of prohibitive measures to import grain and sunflower from the neighboring country, which is destroying Moldovan agrarians. It is just a voice crying in the wilderness amidst the ruling regime’s gutless policy.