Is Moldova Ready for “Tough Compromises”?

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Sergiu CEBAN
The Swiss “peace summit” has ultimately confirmed the geopolitical divide between the positions of the West and the rest of the world, and not only in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. If things do not escalate, peace talks will require mutual concessions and tough compromises
Last week was one of the most intense ones in terms of geopolitical news. Current international processes not only accelerate the course of modern history, but also lay the foundation for the image of a new world order. Several summits, decisions at the EU level, speeches and ultimatums – all this somehow coincided rather “fortunately” in time. It seems as if the key centers of political influence in the world needed to publicly exchange positions. Let us try to sort this out step by step and clarify the possible turn of events. First, the G7 summit in Italy. As before, Ukraine and continued military and financial support for it were high on the agenda. Yet, Moldova also attracted the attention of the Western coalition of allies. We refer to the joint statement of the USA, Canada and Great Britain, issued on the first day of the summit. These countries accused Russia of a plot to organize mass protests in Moldova if the pro-Russian candidate is defeated in the upcoming presidential elections. It is stated that this information, along with other important details, has been handed over to the Moldovan authorities so that they can continue to investigate, while the governments of the three signatory countries will continue to support Moldova. The point of this political message is obvious. The West gives clear guarantees to the current Moldovan elites that they will be able to retain power under any circumstances, and that any revenge of Moscow in Moldova is inadmissible and must be neutralized in the bud. In fact, this is a carte blanche to the current regime, which can now act even more rigidly to almost completely secure the re-election of Maia Sandu. As a matter of fact, the recent situation with the Yerevan - Chisinau flight was a clear example of the methods by which PAS can and will fight those who play along with Ilan Sor’s political activities and participate in Moscow events. Speaking of Russia. The Russian president’s recent speech at a meeting at the Russian foreign ministry largely stirred up the international community and caused resonance among experts. Vladimir Putin made a detailed statement on the prospects of the security system in Eurasia and voiced specific conditions for a possible settlement of relations with Ukraine. Considering them from Chisinau, we can draw only one conclusion – if they are implemented, whether peacefully or by force, there will be almost no chance for Moldova to make a historic leap towards the West. In brief, in order to start the peace process, the Kremlin demands the withdrawal of the Ukrainian army from the territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, even those not yet occupied by Russian troops. The Russians also want guarantees from Kyiv that it will refuse to join NATO. After that, they are ready to cease fire and sit down at the negotiating table. Further, the Russian Federation plans to discuss Ukraine’s neutral, non-aligned, non-nuclear status, the process of demilitarization and denazification, and international recognition of Russia’s new territorial acquisitions, including Crimea. In addition, Moscow intends to demand the complete lifting of all sanctions and unfreezing of Russian assets in the West. Putin called all of the above “another real peace proposal” and promised that the conditions would be much tougher in the future. Obviously, it was no coincidence that the Kremlin “tipped its hands” on the eve of the Global Peace Summit in Switzerland, which according to Kyiv’s plan was supposed to be an ultimatum to Russia to make peace on Ukraine’s terms and with the support of the overwhelming number of countries in the world. However, judging by the content of the event, the outcome was far from the original plot. Even if not always explicitly, but in one way or another, even Ukraine’s closest allies voiced unequivocal hints that Moscow should be involved in the negotiations. As experts had predicted, the Swiss congress did not become the platform that would unite the world in its endeavor to end the conflict in Ukraine. The final declaration of the summit was not supported unanimously even by those delegations that did attend. Some of them refused to authorize the document, and others later withdrew their signatures altogether. Noteworthy that several leaders of key G7 states left the congress on the first day. Oddly enough, the Ukrainian summit most vividly demonstrated the international geopolitical divide and the significant contrast between the positions of the West and the rest of the world. For Kyiv, alas, this is a poor result, as it will surely face growing calls for a thorny compromise with the Kremlin in the future. The only really pleasant news for us and our neighbors in recent days was the European Union’s decision to officially start accession negotiations on 25 June. Just a week later, Belgium, which holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, will convene the first intergovernmental conference with Moldova and Ukraine, where the negotiating framework agreed upon by all member states will be outlined. Well, it is obvious how difficult and under what challenging conditions the contours of a new world are being formed. Of course, we should not overestimate the importance of Moscow and its international capabilities, but it would also be wrong to dismiss Putin’s messages. Realizing that global processes have come to a head, the Kremlin seeks to satisfy its leadership ambitions and offer the countries of the non-Western coalition its thoughts on the security system in Eurasia and the optimal configuration of forces in the world. We will watch the next stage in the autumn, when the BRIC S summit will be held in Kazan. It was no coincidence that the Russian president instructed the government and the Foreign Ministry to continue dialogue with partners in order to come to the Kazan conference with a pile of already agreed solutions that will set the vector of cooperation in politics and security. It should be assumed that in this way the countries of the “global South” will try to present to the West their vision of international restructuring. Unlike the autocratic regimes of China and Russia, which have de facto reaffirmed the legitimacy of their regimes, the West, even if it sounds propagandistic, is indeed in a certain crisis. It concerns not only legitimacy, but also a major understanding of the finalization of the Russian-Ukrainian war, as well as the future security of Europe. But political processes do not stand still, and we are witnessing how the elections to the European Parliament have, in fact, triggered changes of governments in the leading European states, and, consequently, shifts in the shape of political elites in Europe. And what about Moldova? It is safe to say that our state is in the thick of events and the coming geopolitical reconfiguration of the world, and especially the need to comprehend a new system of European (Eurasian) security. Our elites are well aware that the model of peace in Moldova also depends on the concrete formula of peace. This is what Maia Sandu spoke about in Switzerland. The main question, however, is to what extent Chisinau is ready to abandon the maximalist positions that have so far also dominated in Kyiv, and to what extent our political class will be ready for the “hard and tough compromises” that appear to be inevitable, as they are for our Ukrainian neighbors.