The ‘break out of its difficult geography’

Mikhail Katkov

There is serious talk in Chisinau about lifting neutrality and joining NATO, which the government says is vital to protecting democracy. The opposition fears that Moldova will be drawn into an armed conflict. What is happening in the republic – in the material of RIA Novosti.
“Big Alliance”
Maia Sandu, in an interview with Politico, said that the fighting in Ukraine made us think about abandoning neutrality. Accordi-ng to her, there is a lively discussion on this topic in the republic, and in the fu-ture Chisinau may become part of a “larger alliance.” At the same time, the president stressed that Moldova remains “very vulnerable due to Russian propaganda and disinformation.”
She did not mention the name of the organization, but in Moldova and in the West they considered that it was about NATO. There is only one alternative to the bloc in the region – the CSTO. Since Chisinau openly and consistently condemns the special operation in Ukraine, it is obvious that Sandu will not enter into a military alliance with Moscow.
Moreover, recently Moldova has been working more closely with the North Atlantic Alliance. Since the summer, the Minister of Defense of the Republic, Anatoly Nosatiy, has been participating in meetings at the Ramstein airbase. In December, Chisinau was represented for the first time at the summit of the Foreign Ministers of the countries participating in the organization. And in September, Sandu held talks in New York with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
However, Nosatii said that in the foreseeable future, Chisinau will not be able to become part of the bloc, since the Moldovan army is in extremely poor condition. In this, he blamed the desire of the previous authorities to maintain neutrality – they practically did not invest in the armed forces. At the same time, the minister, like Sandu, is sure that the times have passed when it was possible to stay away from international conflicts. He also considers talk of demilitarization irrelevant.
Moldovan Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Nicu Popescu noted that there are many trials ahead, but with the support of the West, the country will overcome everything. “We will be able to preserve peace, democracy and the European spirit,” he assured. At the same time, if a pro-Russian government were to head Moldova, the republic “would suffer the fate of Belarus,” the diplomat believes.
Representatives of NATO speak in the same vein. In particular, Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said that Chisinau has a real chance to “break out of its difficult geography” and become part of “civilized Europe.” True, there is no talk of membership in the alliance yet. In the near future, Joana is going to Moldova to discuss with the local authorities the refusal of neutrality and the supply of Western air defense systems.
Alternative for Chisinau
The leadership of Moldova is set to integrate into NATO, but the residents have a different opinion. According to a November poll of Moldovan and Romanian sociologists, 54.5 percent of citizens are against joining the alliance. In addition, more than 47 percent did not support unification with Romania, while only 35 percent supported it.
The opposition is fighting to maintain a neutral status. The leader of the Party of Socialists, Igor Dodon, called the situation dangerous. According to him, Sandu is acting on the orders of “overseas masters”, which is contrary to the interests of the country. The head of the Shor party, Ilan Shor, believes that joining the bloc will turn Moldova into a second Ukraine. However, Communist Party chairman Vladimir Voronin warned that Sandu would technically need to find only four loyal deputies in order to have enough votes to change the 11th article of the constitution on neutrality. After that, Moldova can be drawn into international military conflicts in which it has never participated.
Alexander Odintsov, chairman of the Party of Socialists faction in Chisinau municipality, noted that there is nothing wrong with the modernization of the army. But he asked himself the question: how much effort and money will have to be spent so that the Moldovan troops become comparable in strength to the neighboring ones? In his opinion, the republic is not able to increase the defense capacity to such a level. Therefore, he considers a neutral status the main guarantee of security and calls on the authorities to enter into negotiations with Romania, Ukraine and Russia in order to strengthen the situation.
Irritant activity
Experts interviewed by RIA Novosti believe that Moldova’s course in NATO is dictated not by national interests, but by the desire of Western partners. At the same time, the ground for abandoning neutrality began to be prepared last spring, when the Moldovan authorities suddenly remembered that the country has a very weak army.
“The West is trying to create so-called broad consequences for Russia in order to prove to it that the special operation did not solve, but exacerbated the existing problems. At the same time, it is important for Moscow’s opponents to create the appearance that its neighbors make such decisions themselves,” explains Moldovan political analyst Dmitry Kiseev.
As a result of the refusal of neutrality, or even on the way to the bloc, Romanian troops may appear on the territory of Moldova. According to the expert, with their help, Sandu will be able to demoralize opponents of joining NATO or passing under the rule of Bucharest. And also to intimidate the inhabitants of Transnistria, who will find themselves between the hostile armies of Ukraine and the alliance. In addition, there will be a temptation to solve the problem of Tiraspol by force.
Moldovan political expert Igor Tulyantsev recalls that there are only two legitimate methods for renouncing neutrality – voting in parliament, where you need to enlist the support of two-thirds of deputies, or a nationwide referendum. But polls show that Moldovans will not agree to this in the current situation. “Neutrality, not militancy, is most suitable for the inhabitants of the country. Most understand that you need to be friends with everyone,” Tulyantsev is sure.
In turn, Natalya Kharitonova, Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, believes that the process of military and infrastructural development of the territory of Moldova by the NATO bloc has already been launched, regardless of the legislation of the republic and the opinions of people. “Neither Chisinau nor the West are interested in legal formalities. The consequences of such an approach can have sad consequences for the country,” the expert says. Moldova follows the path of Ukraine.”
However, political scientists are sure that Chisinau, like Kyiv, will not be accepted into NATO in the near future. Instead, Moldova is being turned into a constant factor of irritation and discrediting of Russia.