Why US Military Counsellors Come to Moldova

Home / Comments / Why US Military Counsellors Come to Moldova
Amid the escalating war in Ukraine, Western partners are stepping up efforts to strengthen Moldova’s defense capabilities as one of the future components of NATO’s and the EU’s eastern defense perimeter
Vladimir ROTARI, RTA: Last week, Intelligence Online, a well-known French outlet specializing in intelligence news, reported that the United States had sent counsellors to several post-Soviet and Balkan states, including Moldova. This was allegedly done at the request of the host countries, which seek to “leave Moscow’s orbit and move away from the Russian military model with increased compatibility with the U.S. army.” Our relevant ministry did not comment on this information, ignoring the requests of the opposition press too. It may be recalled that as early as December 2020, an expert advisor from the US, Karen Bonaby, was embedded in the Defense Transformation Department to assist in the reform and development of the National Army. Whether the Intelligence Online report is referring to this fact, or whether it is about sending a new group of trainers, it is still difficult to say. However, such an event fits into the logic of the processes taking place around and within the defense sector. Despite Moldova’s deteriorating socio-economic state and constant criticism of the opposition, the authorities continue their policy of strengthening Moldova’s defense capability. In recent years, the republic’s military budget has tended to grow steadily and significantly; it can be assumed that in 2025 this item of state expenditure will also increase. At the same time, the state’s own resources are obviously insufficient for a qualitative leap in the modernization of the armed forces. That is why support from Western development partners, who have demonstrated a principled openness to increasing such cooperation and a willingness to allocate significant resources for this purpose, is being sought first and foremost. It is indicative that the news about the dispatch of military advisers came the day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Chisinau, who confirmed Washington’s intention to defend the Euro-Atlantic course of the current Moldovan leadership and to ensure the ability to “resist Russian influence”. In fact, this is reflected in the acceleration of interoperability between the armies of the two countries through constant joint exercises, the frequency of which is unprecedented in Moldova. During army and staff drills, specific military scenarios are practiced, for example, the landing of large units. The United States also provides funding to improve the technical equipment of the National Army: even before the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, American aircraft with weapons, equipment, gear, medical equipment, etc. began arriving to our country. At the same time, the increasing involvement of key European powers and the European Union as a whole in Moldova’s military reform has become a notable trend. The long-term nature of such involvement is emphasized by the fact that it is not just sporadic military supplies, but also envisages a legal framework through the signing of special agreements. It is noteworthy that Brussels signed with us the first security and defense agreement, which enshrines the EU’s commitment to strengthen Moldova’s military potential. Earlier, during Maia Sandu’s visit to Paris, an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation between the defense departments of Moldova and France was signed, which envisages the creation of French military mission in Chisinau. On 4 June, the leadership of the Ministry of Defense hosted French counterparts as part of the First Strategic Dialogue on Defense. Apparently, a similar document will soon be signed with Germany. At least, this conclusion follows from the words of German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, who visited Moldova last week. France and Germany are becoming some of the major donors to the Moldovan armed forces. Paris, in fact, initiated the creation of a modern air defense system in Moldova by selling the Ground Master 200 (GM 200) air surveillance radar. The purchase was sponsored by the European Peace Facility, which has already invested more than 100 million euros in Moldova’s defense sector. The same line will be used to pay for the purchase of a second radar next year. In addition, the first military delivery from France took place at the end of 2023, which included a shipment of light infantry weapons and ammunition. Germany, for its part, is focusing on strengthening the ground capabilities of the National Army, having started the shipment of a new batch of 14 Piranha APC, in addition to the 19 vehicles already handed over during the last year. In addition, Pistorius said that in 2025 the Moldovan military will receive some kind of customized air defense equipment designed to fight drones. Thus, Western partners are stepping up efforts to strengthen Moldova’s defense capabilities as one of the future components of NATO’s and the EU’s eastern defense perimeter, to which our country already officially relates. The process is in line with the long-term strategy, which is confirmed by the conclusion of defense agreements that clearly correlates with the documents on security guarantees that Western powers are signing with Kyiv on a massive scale. It takes place amid an escalating war in Ukraine, which, after the failure of a new round of behind-the-scenes negotiations, was followed by the permission to strike Western short-range weapons on Russian territory and Moscow’s retaliatory threats to supply arms to the West’s opponents. At the same time, the growing crisis phenomena in the neighboring country give rise to pessimistic forecasts about the prospects for military action in the second half of this year, especially in autumn and winter. The scenario of a breakthrough by Russian troops at one of the current or new sections of the frontline, which would shift the line of confrontation to new frontiers, is not guaranteed, but still possible. We cannot rule out that Moldova will be one of them. By then, our country should be ready for military scenarios, with sufficient capacity and training to hold out until the arrival of the allied forces and conduct effective joint actions. Thus, we can predict further increased attention to Moldova’s defense sector, which is about to receive substantial financial aid and, probably, an increase in the number of foreign military consultants deployed in the country.