The signing of the gas supply contract between Moldova and Russia eased for a while the energy tensions in one of the ranks of Eastern Europe and reduced the risk of an energy disaster in the region, presidential adviser in 2015 – 2019 Konstantin Eliseev, currently the manager of a think tank based in Kiev, opined in the Ukrainian media, being quoted by IPN. However, given that the agreement is based not on commercial deals, but rather on political deals, the expert considers we should speak about an armistice that precedes a future energy confrontation on the continent, where Ukraine itself can become a ‘battlefield’.
From this perspective, the Moldovan lesson should be studied by the Ukrainian authorities, consider the author. He believes that the European establishment’s expectations of Nord Stream 2 are naive as Moscow is ready to further use the gas weapon to obtain political concessions from the counteragent. For the purpose, the Kremlin sets down political demands alongside the requirements concerning the amount, price and delivery periods of gas, but these modify not only the commercial parameters, but also the possibility of concluding the deal.
Even if he does not have concrete information about the size of political compromises made by Moldova, the author refers to signals regarding the Third Energy Package as the restructuring of Moldovagaz was put off for a five-year period. The expert noted this can be classed as a gesture of disloyalty to the European integration cause. The way in which the debts will be determined is also not clear, primarily as regards the examination of Transnistria’s debts. These things generate a dangerous precedent.
Given the energy instability caused by the fluctuation of prices and the dependence of volumes on Moscow’s “benevolence”, the EU avoided offering Chisinau clear and, especially, consistent financial guarantees of energy security. Brussels’ recommendation to give up signing long-term contracts with the Russian Federation and to fulfill the commitments under the Third Energy Package wasn’t strengthened with considerable backing with which Chisinau could have responded to the Kremlin.
Consequently, Chisinau agreed to sign a five-year contract with additional political agreements that were practically hidden as a result of the October meeting of the Association Council.
The signing of the contract brought particular benefits to each of the sides. Moldova avoided an energy and also economic collapse the coming winter, while Moscow scored a kind of victory in the confrontation with the EU for the destinies of the “Eastern partners”.
The Kremlin felt the taste of big victories and will most probably stage new gas battles following the launch of the gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 and the start of the reexamination of the association agreements with the EU, concluded Konstantin Eliseev.