Russia’s Near Abroad, Part 4 – Moldova

Moldova is in many ways similar to Ukraine

Russia's Near Abroad - Moldova
Russia's Near Abroad - Moldova

Part 1 of this series was about Crimea, Part 2, about Latvia and Part 3 was about Lithuania.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]M[/dropcap]oldova is another country which is likely to go the way Ukraine did.  A slice of Moldova is called Transnistria and is the equivalent of Eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian forces are strongest.  The nucleus of Russian support comes from the fact that a third of Transnistria’s population is Russian.  Russia also gives Transnistria $27m in aid25 which is very valuable since Moldova depends on remittances from Moldovans working abroad.  Russia refers to Transnistria as the ‘Pridnestrovian Republic.’ According to NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander General Philip Breedlove Russia has forces in Ukraine, and in Transnistria one must add, and is ready to take over Moldova.26            Fortunately for the region, Moldova has not become a casualty, like Ukraine, yet.

Moldova has seen other links with Ukraine.  With Ukraine, Moldova operates a Joint Customs Union through Transnistria under the auspices of OSCE.  In March, 2014, Russia took over Belbek Air base in Crimea and the Ukrainian Airforce commander Yuri Mamchur was taken a prisoner in the early hours of the morning.27

It appears that the ruling elite want to be part of the EU and NATO.  The partnership with NATO was set up under the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) which has to be renewed every two years.  Since March 2014, Moldova contributed troops to the Kosovo Force under the new Defense and Related Security Capacity Building (DCB) initiative.28   Russia’s Deputy PM Dmitry Rogoz warned Moldova that there would be ‘serious consequences’ if Moldova joined the EU.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]B[/dropcap]ut in 2016 opposition leaders took to the streets and outside NATO office in the capital, Chisinau.  The protesters belonged to two leftist parties and one rightist.  They wanted fresh elections, an elected president, an elected parliament, and an alliance with Russia.29

Corruption is rife in Moldova.  Vlad Plahotniuc30 is the Berlusconi of Moldova. He has 4 national TV stations, 3 radio stations, private security forces, and luxurious hotels.  He provides the majority in Parliament.  His opponents, like Renato Usaty, note that he allegedly uses tactics of ‘raider attacks’ to enrich himself and control events in Moldova.31    To top it all, Moldova experienced the “mother of all scandals:” three banks, Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala, and Unibank had to be closed until explanations were found for the missing $1 billion, equivalent to 15% of the GDP.32

References

  1. Stefan Kirchner, “Crimea’s declaration of independence and the subsequent annexation by Russia under international law,” Journal of International Law, January 9, 2015.

  2. “Russian Defense Minister names Russia’s main task,” pravda.ru, April 24, 2016.

  3. “Concept of foreign policy has changed for Estonia,” baltictimes.com, 27.7.2016.

  4. Mikhail Kulkushin, “Estonia wants more NATO troops – but only if they aren’t black,” observer.com, 22.2.2016.

  5. “Russia and Estonia exchange spies after Kohver row,” bbc.com, September 26, 2016.

  6. Bartoz Bieliszczuk, “David and Goliath? Estonia-Russia relations,” visegradplus.org, 10.1.2015.

  7. “Panic in Estonia: Russia kills its economy at one fell swoop,” pravda.ru, 15.4.2016.

  8. Mathew Luzmovre, “Latvia struggles with restive Russian minority amid regional tensions,” america.aljazeera.com, June 13, 2015.

  9. “Latvia-Russia relations in deepest crisis in 20 years,” sputniknews.com, 12.9.2015.

  10. Carl J. Williams, “Latvia, with a large minority of Russians worries about Putin’s goals,” latimes.com, April 13, 2016.

  11. Lydia Tomkiw, “Russia-NATO relations, 2016: Armed aggression, Latvia calls for more military troops,” ibtimes.com, 24.2.2016.

  12. Embassy of Latvia, “Relations between Latvia and Russia,” mfa.gov.lv, 29.9.2015.

  13. “Latvia wants Putin to apologize for Soviet occupation,” pravda.ru, 22.2.2013.

  14. Jeremy Shapiro, “The Russian threat to Lithuania: An interview with Foreign Minister Linas Linkervicius,” brookings.edu.

  15. “Lithuania-Russia relations,” globalsecurity.org, no date.

  16. Adanas Abromaitis, “Nuclear weapons in Lithuania; defense against Russia or target for terrorists,” baltic-review.com, April 16, 2016. Also see Ingvar Henry Lotts, “Russia invasion: two train stations in Lithuania have been cordoned off…” balticreveiw.com, March 19, 2015.

  17. “Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine to launch Joint Brigade in 2017,” defensenews.com, January 25, 2016.

  18. CIA Factbook – Belarus

  19. Siarhei Bohdan & Ryhor Astapenia, “Why Belarus KGB detained the country’ former top businessman,” belarusdigest.com, March 18, 2016.

  20. Siarhei Bohdan, “How Belarus disappointed Russia in Ukraine and Syria,” belarusdigest.com, December 18, 2015.

  21. “Belarus eager to bolster trade, economic cooperation with foreign partners,” belarus.by, April 15, 2016.

  22. cit. Bohdan.

  23. Chris Biggers, “Russian airbase in Belarus remains in limbo,” bellingcat.com, December 27, 2015.

  24. Mikalai Anischacka, “Is Belarus and Russia’s ‘brotherly love’ coming to an end?” theguardian.com, May 29, 2015.

  25. Jens Malling, “The Value of a Frozen Conflict,” mondediplo.com, March 2015.

  26. Luke Harding, “Russia ready to annex Moldova region, NATO commander claims,” thegurardian.com, March 23, 2014.

  27. org.

  28. “Activists in Moldova say NATO has no place in their country,” eadaily.com.en, February 24, 2016.

  29. “Plahotniuc,” moldovanpolitics.com, no date; also see, “Berlusconi of Moldova – Plahotniuc – a Berlusconi of Moldova?” moldovanpolitics.com, December 15, 2015.

  30. “Inside the uprising against Moldova’s Donald Trump?” dailybeast.com, no date.

  31. “European integration and lost billion: Does Europe seek ‘suicide’ of Moldovan elite?” eadaily.com, August 20, 2015.

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