Together with the diligent dissolution of the USSR and of the Socialist camp, the bipolar model of the world order came to an end. One of the superpowers of the world – the USSR – collapsed before the astounded eyes of the international community that wasn’t at all ready for such an unexpected scenario. Overnight, the U.S. and the West in the NATO format found themselves to be categorical winners in the Cold War, being placed before the need to conceive a new form of organizing the world order by the principle of the monopolar world. For now, the impression is that the liberal Western society scored a final victory. This tempted some of the experts to speak about the “end of history”. But after 30 years of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the international developments invalidated the hypothesis about the limits of history, primarily by the amazing economic and military ascent of China, but also by the reappearance of the imperial ambitions of Russia, which is the holder of the second military nuclear potential of the world. They more often speak about the sunset of the monopolar world and the start of a new historical cycle with distinct features that are seen for now only in scattered details, without the distinctive shapes being fully evident. The contemporary world enters at fully speed a new historical turn with all the complications inherent in such a period of evolution.
The new trends in international politics became evident at the end of last year when Moscow demanded that Washington should exclude any new extension of NATO to the East, especially to Ukraine, that the Alliance stopped cooperating with the states of the former Soviet bloc and renounced the NATO maneuvers and troops deployment in Eastern Europe. By the threatening amassing of troops along its borders with Ukraine, Russia said that it responds to what it considers threats to the own security on the part of the closer relations of Ukraine and NATO and the country’s aspirations to join the Alliance, even if there is no indicator that NATO is ready to accept Ukraine as a member of the Alliance. Nevertheless, Moscow formulated its main proposals to the U.S. and NATO, whose essence is as follows:
- NATO should no longer expand and should not accept Ukraine as a member;
- NATO should not deploy troops and additional armament in countries others than those in which such were present in May 1997 (before the accession of Eastern European countries), except for exceptional cases, with Russia’s and NATO member states’ consent;
- Should renounce all the military activities in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia;
- Should not dispatch short- and medium-range nuclear weapons there where they can be used to attack the territory from the other side;
- Should not stage exercises with more than one brigade;
- Should confirm that the two sides do not consider themselves opponents and agree to solve all the disputes peacefully and without the use of force;
- Should undertake not to create conditions that can be perceived as a threat by the other side;
- Should set up emergency lines for rapid discussions between the sides.
Last weekend in Geneva, Blinken and Lavrov had conversations within the fourth round of talks between Russia and the West. In separate news conferences after the meeting, the two announced that after Russia gets from the U.S. responses to its conditions concerning the so-called security guarantees that its aims to obtain from the West, there will be held a new meeting at the same level.
New architecture of security?
For now, there are no concrete plans as to a continuation of discussions between Russia and the West, while the positions of the two sides seem irreconcilable. Both the probability of a Russian attack on Ukraine and its final objectives remain unclear. Some analysts suggested that Russia aims to officially annex the Donbas region and/or to capture a territory so as to connect continental Russia with Crimea that was annexed by Moscow in 2014. An operation in Odessa Oblast aimed at ensuring connection with Transnistria is also discussed. Amid this ambiguity, there is a more discernable opinion that even if a war is avoided, a return to the situation before April 2021 is highly improbable and the current crisis will lead to essential reorganization of the architecture of European and even global security.
At the moment, the great nuclear powers of the world duel in the tensest will test after the fall of the Soviet Union. If diplomacy at this stage fails and a Russian invasion of Ukraine is staged, this can inflict the largest clash of the ordinary conventional armies in Europe after World War II. At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted there are preconditions for a mutual agreement between the West and Moscow, but this depends on Russia’s option to stop the aggression against Ukraine. He also said that NATO is ready to address Russia’s security preoccupations “in the spirit of reciprocity”.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and NATO on Wednesday evening responded separately in written form to Russians’ pretentions of last December. Not many details of the responses are yet known, but the lapidary information leaked to the press shows that the West refuses to renounce the right to accept new members into NATO and remains firmly focused on a diplomatic solution to the crisis. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, NATO, for its part, requested Russia to withdraw its armed forces from Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova. Moscow took a break to examine the responses of the West, keeping the situation at the level of epistolary communication.
Prudence as official attitude
However, no matter how dramatic the developments are, a solution will be ultimately reached at the negotiating table, where the boundaries of the new European and world order will be delimited. In this context, it is normal for us to be concerned about the Republic of Moldova’s place in the new architecture of European security and to what extent we can influence our position in this geopolitical construct. There is no doubt that at the future talks to overcome the crisis, the case of the Republic of Moldova will be closely related to the Transnistrian file and the prospects of resolving this.
Currently, the Republic of Moldova’s official position on the crisis around Ukraine is marked by maximum prudence. The official Chisinau is preoccupied more with the thought not to irritate Moscow. This seems a judicious practice at first sight. But a series of defective elements of this type of approach to the situation appear if we more thoroughly analyze the situation. First of all, if the Ukrainian cause triumphs at the future crisis resolution talks, the Republic of Moldova will invariably gain alongside Ukraine, including in the Transnistrian file. If the crisis at the negotiating table is solved by mutual concessions of the great players, most probably at the expense of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova should take care to be detached from this precedent. For the purpose, a distinct non-acceptance position is needed and this should be even combative in relation to the Russian claims over the post-Soviet space. In this case, the proverbial behavior of the “meek calf” can play a joke on the Republic of Moldova.
Danger of federalization and law on current status of Transnistrian region
A military danger for Ukraine stems from the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova, which is de facto controlled by Russia. The Russian army that was illegally deployed in Transnistria in a provocative way resorts to military exercises to prepare for war at a time when the crisis around Ukraine is at its height. The official Chisinau, dominated by German political consultancy, does not react appropriately, pursuing the goal of not angering Moscow. If we remember the recent reaction of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which requested the administration of the Republic of Moldova to adopt a “constructive approach” and to “positively” respond to Tiraspol’s initiative to resume the talks in the “5 plus 2” format for swiftly finding a political solution to the Transnistrian conflict, the danger of federalization a la Kozak becomes more than imminent, while the federalization solution, which is widely supported by Russia, resonates with the German initiative of the so-called Steinmeier formula of the “special status”. It would be really tragicomic if the Ukrainian crisis that is negotiated and solved by applying the federation formula becomes a solution for the Republic of Moldova too in light of the Russian-German consensus on the new European order. To avoid the danger of federalization, the law on the special status of Transnistria, which is legally a component part of the Republic of Moldova, as a territory that is temporarily occupied by a separatist regime in the service of Russia’s geopolitical interests, should be designed and adopted.
Separation from Russian world and connection to safe security area
For the Republic of Moldova, the adoption of such a law can have the value of separation from the “Russian world” that is covered by Russia’s geopolitical claims. As a CIS member, the Republic of Moldova independently formalizes the status of post-Soviet territory that is influenced by Moscow. The detachment from this conventional Russian space and the denial Moscow’s pretentions of geopolitical domination by merger with the Romanian space, and through this, with the European geopolitical space, become the only solution. Only in this case, any negotiations on the geopolitical status of the Republic of Moldova will automatically become negotiations on the interests of the Romanian nation from both of the Romanian states. The fact that Romania and the largest part of the Romanian people benefit from the protective privilege of being a member of the European Union and NATO will facilitate a lot the extension of the protection of these geopolitical entities on the Republic of Moldova that for now is formally not a member of these organizations. Paradoxically, the Republic of Moldova continues to miss this unique opportunity for guaranteeing its security before aggressive neoimperial pretensions. It is first of all the failure of the Moldovan political class and its leaders who are unable to direct the people to the path of salvation of the national unity.
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.