Este lector la Institutul Politehnic Igor Sikorsky al Universității Naționale Tehnice din Kiev și director executiv al Institutului de Politici Mondiale. Autor al rapoartelor „Război hibrid: supraviețuiește și câștigă” (Harcov, 2015), „Agresiunea hibridă a Rusiei: lecții pentru Europa” (Kiev, 2017) și „Jocuri de imagini: cum percepe Europa Ucraina” (Harcov, 2016, coautor Tetyana Vodotyka). Cartea sa „A șasea: amintiri ale viitorului” – un studiu al președinților ucraineni – a fost publicată în 2017. Din aprilie 2017 este membru al Consiliului public la Ministerul Afacerilor Externe din Ucraina.
russia’s war against Ukraine forces many European states to decide on their position. For obvious reasons, we pay special attention to the actions of our neighbors and partners.
In an interview with Radio Libera, Moldovan President Maia Sandu explained Moldova’s continued neutrality and non-alignment to EU sanctions against russia by concern for Ukrainian refugees. The truth is nowhere hidden, so it is: tens of thousands of Ukrainian women and children have found temporary shelter in the neighboring state, and now their number is estimated at 100,000. In late February, Sandu even visited checkpoints near the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. But now she stressed that Moldova cannot remain without gas and electricity.
The neighboring politician, in whose hands the full power in the country is concentrated is cunning (Moldova is a parliamentary republic, but a sure majority (63 out of 101 seats) in the legislative body is held by Action and Solidarity Party (PAS), which follows Sanda’s equation). Or she prefers to look naive. The fact is that in May 2021 in Batumi (Georgia), three member states of the Eastern Partnership formed an Associated Trio to accelerate integration into the European Union. Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have agreed to coordinate their actions, as each has its own Association Agreement with the European Union. It is noteworthy that after Ukraine’s application for EU membership in early March, similar documents were submitted by Moldova and Georgia (the latter, I recall, also has not joined the EU sanctions against russia). This seems at least incorrect, because Ukraine is paying for the acceleration of its own movement to the EU with the blood of its defenders and huge losses.
There is another interesting nuance: in the autumn of 2021, when Moldova was having difficult negotiations with russia on signing a gas contract, Ukraine provided it with assistance in “blue fuel”. Its volume was small, the gesture was rather symbolic, aimed at demonstrating solidarity. At the end of October 2021, the Moldovan government, represented by Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu, agreed with Moldovagaz and Gazprom to sign a five-year contract. The sharp rise in the price of gas for consumers has forced Natalia Gavrilița’s government to effectively abandon development programs, focusing on protecting vulnerable groups. Moldova is known to compete with Ukraine for the unpleasant title of the poorest country in Europe, and the price of gas is an important factor. Therefore, one should hardly be surprised by Moldova’s readiness to pay for russian gas in rubles, which is why Moldovagaz exists there. By the way, the European Union is helping Moldova to resettle Ukrainian refugees.
It is also worth recalling Transnistria, which is not recognized by the world community. This quasi-republic was the result of one of the kremlin’s first experiments in conflict management in the post-Soviet space in the early 90s of the 20th century. The situation is complicated by several facts: a number of Transnistrian bosses have passports of Ukrainian citizens, huge artillery depots are located on the territory of the so-called Transnistrian region (experts say 20,000 tons of explosives). In late March, the PACE called Transnistria occupied by russia, and Maya Sandu called on the russian occupiers to leave. However, there are objective difficulties: Moldova has a state border only with Romania and Ukraine, so it is not necessary to seriously discuss the issue of ammunition export and withdrawal of the Russian contingent from Transnistria. Let me remind you that the total number of russian troops in Transnistria and the army of the unrecognized republic consists of about 10,000 soldiers, experts do not rule out the possibility of its invasion of Ukraine, but do not overestimate the combat capabilities. Information and psychological special operations are underway from Transnistria to Ukraine, saboteurs may be raiding. But they have a good chance against the Moldovan army, and there is a threat of a “reconstruction” of 30-year-old events. Perhaps that is why Maia Sandu listens carefully to the advice of the deputy head of the kremlin administration, Dmitry Kozak, who has long taken care of the situation in Moldova. And she seems to believe his assurances.
There is a noticeable industrial potential on the left bank of the Dnister, which is not even recognized by russia, and which serves to enrich the local elite. Transnistria’s search for reintegration with Moldova has created opportunities for exports to the EU. The other day, the European Union took sanctions on the Moldovan metallurgical plant in Rybnitsa, which was not disputed in Chisinau. They talk about the corresponding position of Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu (he has already been mentioned above). Moldovan media suggest that Spinu is involved in shaping the tender conditions for the purchase of S.A. Termoelectrica – the largest supplier of heat and electricity in the country of turbines of the russian industrial group “Power Machines”. It belongs to the sanctioned (in the EU and the US) russian oligarch Aleksei Mordashov.
There have been many moments of misunderstanding between Ukraine and Moldova, but russia’s aggression against our country has become a real litmus test that can test relations for a real strategic partnership. It is unfortunate if Moldova does not understand that the weakening of Ukraine’s position will put pressure on Chisinau. It is unfortunate that there is no awareness of the common problems in relations with russia and the need to create positive associations, not declarations.