President Maia Sandu in a recent meeting of the Supreme Security Council presented the draft National Security Strategy of the Republic of Moldova, which generated different reactions in Moldovan society. The Russophile part of the Moldovan population disapproved of the rectification of the traditional view on state security which, with particular unprincipled deviations, had dominated political thinking in Chisinau during the last 30 years and which classed Russia as a strategic partner of Moldova. For their part, the pro-European forces greeted with satisfaction the realistic ascertaining of the existential dangers to the security of the Moldovan state, which for many years had been avoided in the strategies designed in the past.
For first time in the Republic of Moldova’s history
The draft new strategy centers on three main objectives designed to strengthen the republic’s security “in the most dangerous moment since the obtaining of independence”. These three objectives were formulated as priorities, like the protection and guaranteeing of the safety of citizens, creation of a strong and respected state, and joining of the EU by the Republic of Moldova. The most serious dangers to national security were defined by President Maia Sandu in her presentation as “the aggressive policy pursued by the Russian Federation against our country and against peace, in general, and corruption that is deep-rooted in the Republic of Moldova”.
The draft strategy stipulates that the major threat to the security of the Republic of Moldova is the “military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the Russian government’s ambition to make a military land corridor to Moldova’s territory”, which would create immediate preconditions for the “violent replacement of the constitutional order and liquidation of the statehood of our country”. In this connection, it should be noted that for the first time in the history of the Republic of Moldova, in an official state document, Russia is to be classed as a threat to national security. It is for the first time that such an open accusation against Moscow is made with the warning that this poses the main danger to the sovereignty of the Moldovan state. Such a trenchant approach to Moscow’s role with regard to the Republic of Moldova points to a radical change in Chisinau’s view on the problem of national security, which implies a cardinal revision of the methods of countering the existing dangers.
The proposed draft strategy document says: “The Russian Federation and its agents in the Republic of Moldova are the most dangerous and persistent source of threat that, if it is not countered, can have serious effects on the statehood, democracy and prosperity of the country”. This is a pertinent and as realistic conclusion as possible. But after specifying the danger to national security coming from the pro-Russian “fifth column”, the strategy document does not stipulate the causes of the persistency and massiveness of the presence of Moscow’s agents inside Moldovan society. But without the precise and correct identification of the causes of the phenomenon, it is imposable to plan the most efficient measures for overcoming it.
When presenting the strategy document, President Maia Sandu underlined the state’s main action directions for ensuring the sustainability of national security by counteracting the existing dangers:
- increasing investments in and strengthening the national defense and security sector;
- gradually resolving the Transnistrian dispute by peaceful ways;
- developing security partnerships with developed and prosperous countries;
- fighting corruption and creating powerful institutions that would apply the law;
- contributing to regional and international security.
Maia Sandu also said that besides these dangers, the Republic of Moldova should be ready to cope with global risks, such as climate change, pandemics and natural disasters or the use of new technologies for harmful purposes.
Anger and unconcealed interest
These findings and measures do not yet include actions to accurately identify the causes of the large presence of Moscow’s influence in particular sections of Moldova society. Also, no efficient methods for neutralizing this influence are clearly stipulated. In this regard, there is no need to have evidence from inside the Russian services to know that Moscow has a strategy for the Republic of Moldova and is interested in keeping this at least in a zone of strategic ambiguity, in thwarting the process of joining the EU and NATO.
There is irritation in the Russian capital with the strategic options assumed by the current government in Chisinau and, in particular, by President Maia Sandu. In an interview given by the Russian minister of foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov for a Russian TV channel at the beginning of February, this made it clear where this profound dissatisfaction of Moscow with the bilateral Russo-Moldovan relations comes from: “The West is looking at Moldova to play the role of the “next Ukraine”, and the country’s President Maia Sandu is “itching to join NATO, by way of quite specific methods that are far from being free or democratic in any way. She has Romanian citizenship, is ready to unite with Romania and in general is ready for almost anything”.
So, the Kremlin is irritated with the Moldovans’ aspiration to be free from Russia by the example of the Ukrainians, while the freedom of the Moldovans can be fully ensured by the union with Romanian and the accession to NATO. Namely such a development trajectory of the Moldovan state poses the main danger to the Russian domination and minister Lavrov with overflowing sincerity revealed these fears of the Kremlin with regard to the Republic of Moldova.
But in this context, the draft strategy avoids a fontal approach to the problem of fully ensuring the security of the Republic of Moldova, preferring a palliative formula and saying that “the EU is and will remain one of the main pillars of security on the European continent”. In reality, NATO is that political and military organization that ensures protection, security and peace for its members. The prevailing in Moldovan society of the perception of non-acceptance of NATO as a cardinal security remedy, which was inherited from the Soviet period and is zealously preached by the current Russian propaganda, is one of the main dangers to national security of the Moldovan state, which was omitted in the text of the strategy.
The draft security strategy also omitted to address the identity shortcomings of Moldovan society, which determine the multiple faults that split it into different groups with contrary views about the civilization choice for the Republic of Moldova. The identity diffusion of the Moldovan state is presented as a fundamental danger to national security, which persisting, will never enable to fully mobilize the community of citizens to resist with sacrifice before the foreign aggressor.
Effect without cause
Among the weaknesses of national security, which “are or can be exploited by national and foreign malign actors” is justly mentioned the “poor integration of the national minorities” into Moldovan society. But the document does not specify the causes of this phenomenon and also a view on how the national minorities can be integrated into Moldovan society. Such a realistic view cannot be even formulated when the national minorities do not perceive and do not understand the identity of the society in which they need to integrate because the native people themselves, in a considerable proportion, have a diffuse identity.
At the same time, the current draft National Security Strategy of the Republic of Moldova, even if it does not stipulate all the range of risks and hazards to national security, is the most advanced security conception in the history of the contemporary Moldovan state. This circumstance leaves the door open for pronounced optimism about the working out, in a predictable future, of a concept that will be perfectly feasible for fully ensuring national security which cannot be conceived outside the national unity project that ensures the shortest way to the full integration of the Romanian space eastward the Prut into NATO and the EU.
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.