Moldova, Putin’s next target?

The Russian attack on Ukraine awakens Transnitria and calls into question the neutrality of the country

Borrell travels to Moldova to give them support

Brussels is studying what could be the next objective of Russian President Vladimir Putin if he manages to subjugate Ukraine. Many diplomats look at the frozen conflicts in the Georgian regions under Russian control South Ossetia and Abkhazia and in Moldavian Transnitria.
The High Representative Josep Borrell and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi traveled to Moldova on Wednesday, a country that appears in many scenarios as a target of Putin. your president Maia Sandu and her Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita pHelp was given to the European Union while the European energy ministers authorized the Commission to start technical work to connect and synchronize the Moldovan electricity grid to the European one. Nicu Popescu, Moldovan foreign minister, condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine but did not join his country to European sanctions. The country has already received more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

The Moldovan context

Moldova is a unique case in Europe. It is not a member of the European Union or NATO, but it does have agreements signed with Brussels within the framework of the Eastern Partnership. Its cultural, historical and linguistic proximity to Romania means that many Moldovans have a Romanian passport and therefore can move around Europe. In the migratory statistics they appear as Romanians although some have never lived in Romania because they have a passport because their ancestors were Romanians.
Ukrainian boy refugee in MoldovaGettyIn Romanian we speak of ‘East Moldova’ to distinguish the country from ‘Western Moldova’, a Romanian region. The country is nestled between its sister Romania and the Ukraine and is made up of the historical territories of Bessarabia (which the Soviet Union handed over in the Peace of Brest-Litovsk) and southern Podolia, known as Transnitria (beyond the Dniestr, the river main country).

Moldova controlled by his Government, based in Chisinau, It was part of the Ottoman Empire from the 14th century until 1812, when the Ottomans ceded it to the Russian Empire during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1917 it became a Soviet republic. In 1918, with the Soviets losing territory during the First World War, declares independence and then joins Romania.
In 1940 the pact between Hitler and Stalin (signed by his ministers Ribbentrop and Molotov) returns it to the Soviet Union. Stalin issues an ultimatum to Romania to cede the territory. The Romanians, taking advantage of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, take Moldova again between 1941 and 1944, when they are expelled by Soviet troops as they advance west.
After the collapse of the USSR, it became independent in August 1991. pBut Russia does not leave the country. The presence of a significant Russian minority (estimated at a third of the population and concentrated mainly in Transnitria, bordering Ukraine) leads the Kremlin to maintain a significant military presence. In 1992 these troops, in a brief war (from March to July 1992, 3,500 dead), de facto separated Transnitria from the rest of Moldova.
Since then, the country has been trying to maintain a foreign neutrality that allows it to avoid conflicts. Pro-Russian and pro-European formations have been succeeding each other in the Government without decisively changing foreign policy. Commercially and economically it is much more connected to the European Union than to Ukraine and Russia.
Without completely cutting ties with Moscow (depends 100% on Russia for its gas supply) has been drawing closer to Brussels: it has been a member of the NATO Partnership for Peace since 1994 and signed a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union in 2009 and an Association Agreement (the most advanced a relationship with the European Union can be for countries that are not candidates for accession) in 2016. It is the poorest country in Europe in terms of GDP per capita and in the United Nations Human Development indices it appears at the bottom of Europe.
The Russian attack on Ukraine awakens shadows of the past and puts the country, with the presence of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, in a very uncomfortable geopolitical situation. ANDhe country never signed peace with Russia because it does not agree to give up Transnistria and its Constitution establishes that it is neutral in foreign policy, a reference to the fact that it will not join NATO and that reassures Russia.
Borrell’s trip should serve to make the Romanian leaders feel that Europe is monitoring the situation, but the Russian XVI Army is the owner and lord of the situation because the Moldovan Army could not face it. Moldova has about three million inhabitants. Of them, almost half a million live in Transnitria, a territory that no country in the world recognizes as independent. Nor Russia, which in practice treats it as if it were its own. There were attempts to close the conflict, led by the OSCE and with the participation of Russia, the United States, the European Union, Ukraine, Moldova and the Transnistrian authorities. They never made it to port.

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