NATO jubilee and Moldova’s Defense Strategy. Op-Ed by Anatol Țăranu



Just as it is necessary to consider the possibility of creating a “Republic of Moldova mission” within NATO, in order to raise the degree of institutionalization and intensify the cooperation relations of the Republic of Moldova with the North Atlantic Organization. Only in this way will it be possible to maximize the degree of adaptation of the defense capabilities of the National Army and the state to the needs of guaranteeing national security...


Anatol Țăranu

On April 4, 2024, the North Atlantic Alliance turned 75, but the Alliance is not in the mood to celebrate. The war in Ukraine keeps everyone on alert. Even though NATO has worked well since its inception and then for most of its life, today the situation has changed, degenerating to less or more official discussions about a probable nuclear war. Before the onset of the Russian military aggression in Ukraine, such calls for the use of nuclear weapons were a definite ‘mauvais ton’ in the international public space. But today’s world has entered the phase of radical changes, whose proportions and nuances are still unclear.

75 years of guaranteed peace and security

75 years ago, on April 4, 1949, representatives of a dozen countries signed in Washington the North Atlantic Treaty “to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.” NATO had to defend all these civilizational values from the aggressive aspirations of Stalin’s Moscow, which had already subjugated the countries of Eastern Europe and dreamed of expanding as far as La Manche and Gibraltar.

On April 4, 2024, the countdown began to the Washington Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (July 9-11), which will mark the 75th anniversary of the Pact and as many years of peace and security for the founding member states. A unique achievement for the European space in NATO custody and for the peoples of the member states. A security model dreamed of by other peoples, whose history prevented them from becoming part of this select club of states with guaranteed security.

Expansion forced by Russia’s aggressiveness

After the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, NATO expanded into Eastern Europe through two major waves, in 1999 and 2004. Enlargement is a pressing issue. Russian President Vladimir Putin has long supported the old Soviet thesis about NATO’s aggressiveness, continuing the absurd fairytale that NATO’s eastward expansion is a kind of imperialist project designed to threaten Russia’s security. In reality, NATO expanded as a result of sustained pressure from former Soviet satellite states to be admitted to the Alliance in the hope that they will protect themselves from imperialist Russia. Moscow’s aggressive policy bears the main responsibility for NATO expansion, and the recent case of Finland and Sweden leaves no doubt in this regard.

The Alliance sees itself as an insurance policy for new democracies emerging in the space that is still dominated by Moscow. But 75 years after its founding, NATO faces difficult problems and much uncertainty. With a military conflict on European soil, NATO is at a crossroads and its role appears increasingly necessary to update. The Alliance is governed by the principles outlined in its strategic concept, with the current version dating back to 2022. The concept proclaims a desire “to contribute to international peace and security” and designates “crisis prevention and management” among its three priorities. The concept states that NATO “will work with other international actors to address the broader circumstances fueling crises and pervasive instability” and outlines its cooperation relationships with other international organizations.

Questions, unanswered so far

In the near future, NATO must come up with clear answers to a series of questions. What is the future of NATO enlargement? Where exactly are the geographical boundaries of the Alliance? Are troop deployments outside the Alliance’s borders part of its future plans? How can all its members be made to spend 2% of the GDP on the military when currently not even half do so? Will NATO always have an “open door policy”, given that Article 10 of the Treaty allows any “European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”? Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, and Georgia have long expressed interest in joining the Alliance.

From the height of time, the assertion that NATO really worked raises no doubt. Nor is it an exaggeration to conclude that the Alliance won the Cold War. But the 75th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty should make its leaders realize that they need to shape a future by making difficult decisions. The election of a new Secretary General of the Alliance should perhaps be accompanied by the designing of a new edition of the Strategic Concept, which will contain answers to the questions raised above. And there is not much time for formulating these answers correctly.

The war and Ukraine’s place in NATO

The pressing issue for NATO lies in managing the war situation in Ukraine, but also in determining the country’s future place and role in the organization. At the Vilnius Summit in July 2023, the allies said Ukraine would be a member of NATO. In reality, the United States and Germany do not currently intend to commit to a schedule or send a formal invitation to Ukraine. These two pillars of the organization fear an escalation of the conflict and refuse any direct NATO involvement against Russia. But above all these considerations, it is becoming clear that a “clear roadmap” for Ukraine is to be laid out at the Washington Summit.

As a prelude to the future talks in Washington, the organization’s Secretary General Stoltenberg suggested creating a “Ukraine mission” within NATO, presented as a way to prepare its accession when the time comes. The former Norwegian prime minister proposes above all the creation of a $100 billion (€93 billion) military support fund in favor of Kiev. This fund would be financed by allies, depending on their Gross Domestic Product. According to this distribution method, the United States should contribute €30 billion, Germany €20 billion, France around €10 billion.

At the moment, reactions to this initiative are mixed. In the absence of an immediate compromise, Stoltenberg proposes bringing together under the same NATO umbrella the bilateral security agreements that the allied states have already signed with Ukraine. The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands have made a long-term commitment in this regard for more than ten years, whereas the United States could do so at the Washington Summit.

Stoltenberg initiative needs to be carefully examined in Chisinau

This initiative of Stoltenberg deserves to be examined with the utmost attention in Chisinau, where work is ongoing on the new National Defense Strategy. Attention is drawn by a provision in this draft document under formulation, which defines as undeniable the fact that the Republic of Moldova cannot cope alone with the current challenges “to the security and defense of the state, especially in the conditions of intensity and advanced technologies of modern warfare, and the partners’ support in achieving this desideratum remains critical. At the same time, the developments after February 24, 2022, regionally and internationally, completed and accelerated the processes of integrating into the European Union, of intensifying relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (hereinafter – NATO), and of deepening existing bilateral partnerships, and also of identifying new opportunities in this regard.”

It is important that in the text of the National Defense Strategy that will be approved in the foreseeable future, the more than realistic conclusion cited above be not only formally reproduced, but also supported by the formulation of concrete measures to sustainably increase the defense capabilities of the Republic of Moldova. Seen from this perspective, the Strategy would provide for political and diplomatic measures regarding the replication in the Republic of Moldova’s case of Ukraine’s experience of negotiating and signing bilateral security agreements with the NATO states. Just as it is necessary to consider the possibility of creating a “Republic of Moldova mission” within NATO, in order to raise the degree of institutionalization and intensify the cooperation relations of the Republic of Moldova with the North Atlantic Organization. Only in this way will it be possible to maximize the degree of adaptation of the defense capabilities of the National Army and the state to the needs of guaranteeing national security.

Anatol Țăranu
doctor of history, political commentator

IPN publishes in the Op-Ed rubric opinion pieces submitted by authors not affiliated with our editorial board. The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of our editorial board.

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