The EU’s newly announced common platform for buying gas, which is also open to Moldova, should give the Moldovan authorities food for thought as regards the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, says security expert Sergiu Tofilat.
Speaking at an IPN debate on Monday, the expert noted that the Transnistrian region remains a territory influenced by Russia, including economically. “The economy of the Transnistrian region is not sustainable without the gas coming free of charge from the Russian Federation. Two-thirds of the region’s exports are metals and electricity, which are competitive exclusively due to the free gas. If Russia stops subsidizing the region, there will be a number of serious consequences, including the region’s budget being cut in half and utility prices going up by15-20 times. A humanitarian crisis could ensue”, said Sergiu Tofilat.
Moldova should be prepared for such an eventuality. “The moment Russia stops subsidizing this region, we must be ready both financially and politically. We need a roadmap on how to reintegrate this territory”, he pointed out.
At the same time, Sergiu Tofilat predicts that Gazprom, for the time being, will not terminate the supply agreement with Moldova, precisely because of the Transnistrian region. “Although Gazprom has the right to demand the termination of the contract from May 1, the Kremlin is not ready to give up the Transnistrian region, because without a contract with Moldovagaz, the Kremlin will not be able to deliver gas to the left bank of the Nistru”, said the expert.
According to him, the European Union’s decision on centralized gas procurement comes in response to intimidation from the Kremlin through Gazprom, which uses gas as a political weapon.
“(Gazprom) accounts for about 40% of gas consumption in the EU and now the situation is changing. If Gazprom had pursued corporate policies and economic interests free from political goals, then Moldova would not have witnessed this initiative. Vladimir Putin is trying to intimidate any state that shares democratic values, respects human rights, especially the right of citizens to choose their own leadership. Obviously, this is a threat to his regime and he is trying to annihilate any democratic aspirations. That is why he attacked Ukraine”, said Sergiu Tofilat.
Asked to estimate when the EU’s common platform could become operational, the expert said that normally it is cheaper to buy gas in the summer, when consumption is low, so he expects the platform to be activated in May the latest.
The debate was the 232nd installment of the “Developing Political Culture” Series, run by IPN with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.