Moldova: a strategic country in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict.

Politics - April 5, 2023

The challenges that this country are facing today require action and protection from the European Union

Moldova is a country of Eastern Europe. It borders the countries of Romania and Ukraine, and is landlocked. Like almost all countries in this area, Moldova was part of the USSR, later becoming independent in December 1991 and joining the United Nations in March 1992.

Its geographical location makes this country particularly strategic within the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which began now more than a year ago, on last February 24, 2022.

Reviewing this past year from the Moldovan side, it is worth mentioning that a few days after the outbreak of the war, Moldova officially submitted its application for membership in the European Union, declaring itself somewhat akin to the principles and actions of the Western side.

The territory of Moldova is strategic in this conflict, so much so that it has also been an alternative escape route for all the Ukrainian refugees who in the very first months since the Russian attacks were forced to leave their country.

Moldova precisely because of its geopolitical position is a territory that plays a decisive role in the actual political international scenario. The European Union has come out in support of the Moldovan state and people, so much so that in April 2022, during a joint press conference with Moldovan President Maia Sandu, European Council President Charles Michel stated that it is a European duty to help and support the country and to increase support for its stability, security, and territorial integrity. In this sense, therefore, the European Union also recognized the need to have to address the Russian-Ukrainian crisis through the support of those countries that gravitate to the main war scenario.

Other countries also agreed to take into consideration the role of Moldavia. For this reason, the then Foreign Secretary of Great Britain Liz Truss says that it was necessary to give Moldova weapons to stop an invasion by Vladimir Putin, and that was crucial that also Nato increased this type of support.

The support from the UE side also arrived on last 23th June, when the European Council deliberated, after the recommendation from the European Commission, that both Ukraine and Moldavia officially received the status of member EU candidate status, which made this day “a good day for Europe”, as the President Ursula von der Layen said in that occasion.

Direct and indirect threats to Moldova’s independence and sovereignty.

The fear of Moldavia of a Russian invasion was concrete. And infact some actions were taken by Russian government against Moldavia, such as the fall of a rocket right in Moldova on the Ukrainian border and the threat of facing a gas and energy crisis because of the Russian supply stop.

But it was on February 2023 that the crisis exacerbated. In that period Putin revoked a May 2012 decree upholding Moldova’s sovereignty, renewing Russian sights on the country bordering Ukraine.

This document was produced by especially focusing on the role of the region of Transnistria. This is an independent region, which is not officially recognized, and it hosts between 1000 and 4000 russian soldiers. This region represents a strategic territory for the evolution of the conflict as it already has some historical issues that regards both Moldova and Russia.

And that represents a complex situation as we can reasonably think that the Moldova could be the next Ukraine, as it is now caught between the Western Europe and Russia and it seems to focus a great deal of attention on itself from both sides.

It is indeed fundamental to protect Moldova in order to stop as soon as possible the expansionist ambitions of Russia, which intends to attack this country in order to increasingly extend the conflict in western regions.

Protecting the country of Moldova means also protecting the Europe and all its citizens.

For this reason, the European Parliament decided to discuss in a deeper way the Moldovan situation. On last 14th March, the Members of Parliament debated about the challenges that the Republic of Moldova is now facing.

In particular, during his speech the Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Várhelyi, referred to the audience that Moldova is facing an increase number of challenges, such as loss of key markets, soaring inflation, violations of its airspace, and staged protests. But he also highlighted the fact that, despite all the pressures form the external part, the Moldovan republic “continues working on reforms that aim to bring the country closer to the European Union”.

Moldova must remain on top of the European Union’s political agenda, in order to ensure the country’s security, territorial integrity and sovereignty, which also means to guarantee the security of Europe.

In this view, European action is already direct and substantial, and in fact the EU has allocated 13 million euros for Moldova for humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the conflict. Nowadays the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) services, together with Member States, are also thinking to put new sanctions to the individuals that seek to destabilize this country.

Despite all the challenges that Moldova is facing the country seems to be strong and it wants to react to the difficulties, such that in June it will host the second Summit of the European Political Community.

Until today Moldova has been plagued by the arrival of more than 700.000 Ukrainian refugees, and in addition to this it has also suffered from Russia’s blockade of imports of Moldovan wine, the country’s main agribusiness product, while economic relations with Europe turn out to be with about 70 percent of Tiraspol’s exports heading to the EU thanks to agreements between Brussels and Chisinau. At the same time, however, Moldova has also long been the target of cyber-attacks and the pressing disinformation conveyed by the pro-Russian media. Finally, it should be remembered that Moldovan citizens have almost all dual (or triple) citizenship, the population being divided almost equally between Ukrainians, Moldovans, and Russians, which creates tensions within the same country that should not be underestimated.

The danger of hybrid warfare and the position of conservatives in defense of the Moldovan nation

Actually, Moldova is currently the target of hybrid aggression, with protests taking place in Chisinau.

But as declared during the European parliament reunion “The future of Moldova and its citizens is within the European Union”.

Moldova government also ensures that the country strongly wants to act in the name of democracy and freedom. In order to do so it is fundamental to strengthen the relationship between the European Union and Moldova, which requires to be protected and supported for remaining free and independent from external pressures.

“I am sure that Moldova, under the leadership of President Maia Sandu, will overcome these threats and challenges and remain firmly on the Euro-Atlantic track. We must support Moldova”, said MEP Anna Fotyga, ECR Foreign Affairs Coordinator. That is another point that stresses out the strategic relevance of the country, both in geopolitical and social terms. Moldova and its people must be defended because this means that Russia is not able to attack in a stronger way and it also means that the European Union and all the other allies can combat Russian aggression and continue to fight for democracy and freedom to be restored in Ukraine and throughout the area that is now under constant attacks.