Republic of Moldova waiting for war. Possible scenarios. Op-Ed by Anatol Țăranu



Not even the firm attachment to the idea of European integration of the Republic of Moldova, in the absence of a clear perspective of accession to the EU, can guarantee the detachment from historical Russia and from the revisionist claims of Moscow...


Anatol Țăranu

Mankind entered 2022 with a series of crises in a cascade. The pandemic with its considerable economic and social impact continues, being aggravated by the energy crisis with the explosive rise in public debts and by the inflationist wave that only started. Furthermore, the year that just started inherited the escalation of conflicts in critical areas, such as Ukraine and Taiwan, which were joined by Kazakhstan at the beginning of the year. The internal crisis in Kazakhstan was somehow unresolved with foreign military intervention, while the case of Ukraine remains acutely topical.

It was determined absence of…

Last week, Geneva hosted the first discussions with the Russian Federation on Moscow’s proposals for the U.S. and NATO of December 17, 2021. Moscow demanded that the West should provide written legally binding guarantees that NATO will not expand in Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine and Georgia, and that it will stop any military deployment on the territory of the countries that entered the Alliance after 1997. The meetings in Geneva were held at bilateral U.S-Russia and NATO – Russia levels and then within the OSCE. As a result of these discussions, it was determined that the positions of the sides were very different. The real goal pursued by Moscow in the dispute with the Biden administration and NATO is far from stopping at Ukraine. Russia hopes to redistribute the spheres of influence in Europe in its favor, openly defying the state sovereignty of the former Soviet republics that it univocally includes in its sphere of preferential geopolitical influence. The case of Ukraine plays a central role in this strategy of Moscow.

For now, after the first contacts in Geneva, the sides took a short break during which Russia asked for punctual responses to all the proposals contained in the documents transmitted to the West last December. As NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană stated, the alliance will formulate its position on the resolution of the existing tensions by diplomatic ways in written form, noting there are principles that cannot be subject to compromise.

Sound of war drums drawing closer?

The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov last Friday told a news conference that Russia braces for any developments while waiting for a response on the security guarantees from the United States and NATO. Also, Russia repeated, in a categorical tone, its demand that NATO should not expand to the East, even if the Alliance rejected this demand. The Russian official also said that Russia will not withdraw its troops deployed along the border with Ukraine. Lavrov underscored that Moscow has different response options if the West rejects the security proposal of Russia, not excluding the military solving of the crisis as a solution. Recently, the press reported that the personnel of Russia’s Embassy in Kiev are being gradually evacuated while Russian troops are being dispatched in Russia’s central and eastern regions at the border with Ukraine. As a result, some of the Western commentators started to talk about the sound of war drums drawing closer.

Given the unbending behavior of Moscow, the position of the West oscillates between firmness and spirit of compromise. The U.S. and NATO officials stated that they will not riposte in a military way to a possible invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Instead, Moscow will be subject to the harshest personified program of economic sanctions, including the disconnection of the Russian banking system from the international one and putting of Russian senior state officials, including Putin and Lavrov, on the list of persons subject to personal sanctions.

Between gloomy and ‘happy’ scenarios

In the Western press, the description of the danger of the war in Ukraine oscillates between the gloomiest scenarios and the propagation of the feeling that nothing special happens globally, leaving the impression that only Ukraine is in danger. Moreover, some of the European officials admit that it is normal for Russia to ask for a sphere of influence in Europe. But there are sufficient sonorous voices that underline the proportion of the provocation faced now by the Western word, in particular Europe, given Moscow’s aspirations to review the current modus vivendi of European security. Allusions are even made to the precedent of 1939, when it was believed that what Hitler wanted then didn’t go beyond Danzig. It is noted that the current agenda of Putin is far from stopping at Ukraine. The real stake of the Kremlin is to put the Americans and the Europeans face to face with explicit blackmailing for them to accept Pax Russica, at least for the ex-Soviet space.

At political-military expertise level, they seriously discuss the possibility of Russian military invasion of Ukraine. They draw attention to Russia’s resilience to international sanctions through the accumulation of considerable reserves of gold and currency, with the possibility of imposing countersanctions that can block in winter the supply of gas to Europe, which satisfies over 40% for its gas necessities with Russian gas. To resume gas supplies, Moscow could ask for a Russia-EU security treaty, leaving America outside this understanding so as to force Washington to abandon its financial sanctions.

Negotiations and comprises at whose expense?

It seems to be a fantasist plan, but when society is profoundly dominated by hedonist feelings, most of the people would definitely plead for the solving of the situation by making concessions. Namely on this reaction of Western society Putin banked in his wish to realize his dream of restoring historical Russia by destroying NATO’s unity. Also, in such conditions China could become as aggressive as Russia, being probably decided to act against Taiwan. Such a scenario, if it’s implemented, would mean the sunset of the geopolitical domination of the U.S. in the contemporary world. Such a perspective can inflame the most temperate revisionist minds of the current world order.

To maintain the situation under control, the U.S. will most probably have to adopt a harsh position on the Ukrainian issue so as to save NATO and not allow the most disastrous scenario for the unity of the West. A harsh position, but not a military conflict fatal for mankind. This means negotiations and compromises. It is highly probably that the Russians will also become more flexible or the path of compromises will be impracticable. However, namely Moscow will obtain concessions from the West as a result of these negotiations. The content of the basket of concessions in favor of Moscow at the end of the U.S., NATO-Russia talks is yet essential. Where will the Republic of Moldova be in this case – in the basket of Russian acquisitions or outside it?

First scenario: invasion of right side of the Nistru together with Ukraine

The invasion of the right side of the Nistru together with Ukraine is one of the worst scenarios for the Republic of Moldova if Russia invades Ukraine. If Russia brutally violates international law and order by staging a military attack on Ukraine, not much will stop it from violating the same international law in the case of the Republic of Moldova. There will be enough pretexts, from a military provocation in Transnistria to the call of an invented urgency committee of Russian citizens living in the Republic of Moldova to defend the rights violated by the so-called Romanian nationalists. In this case, judging by the spirits existing in Moldova society, enough persons ready to meet the Russian tanks in Chisinau with flowers and ovations, by the scenario of 1940, will be found. This will be the price paid for the 30-year ignoring by the Moldovan governments of the problem of identity of the Moldovan state that remained hostage to the colonial past and a loser in the fight for the people’s minds.

Second scenario: close to Novorossiya

An as bad scenario is to implement the Novorossiya project in which separatist Transnistria would unite with the Ukrainian territory occupied by the Russian military forces. In such circumstances, Chisinau will be swiftly made to accept a kind of Kozak memorandum as a solution to the Transnistrian conflict.

Third scenario: at negotiating table or on table with food

If the military conflict is avoided and a diplomatic solution is reached, the Republic of Moldova risks becoming an element of the bonus obtained by Russia as a result of the compromises made by the negotiating sides. Putin made his priorities clear by claiming control over historical Russia. Finland, Poland, the Baltic States were also incorporated into the tsarist empire, but these countries, by pursuing distinct national policies, regained the right to separate themselves from historical Russia. Instead, the Republic of Moldova, promoting at state policy level the Moldovenist identity different from the Romanian one, indissolubly related to the imperial practices of separating the Moldovans eastwards the Prut from the rest of the space of its national development, remains hostage to the Russian world and the Russian geopolitical space. Not even the firm attachment to the idea of European integration of the Republic of Moldova, in the absence of a clear perspective of accession to the EU, can guarantee the detachment from historical Russia and from the revisionist claims of Moscow. Such a guarantee can be only the official position of the Republic of Moldova on its affiliation with the Romanian historical, cultural and identity space that is different from the Russian one by definition. Only such an approach by the Moldovan government to the natural place of the Republic of Moldova in the European civilization concept would offer chances to resist, at the negotiating table, the geopolitical revisionism of Moscow.

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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