Moldova, the next piece in Putin’s imperial domino

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned two weeks ago for the umpteenth time that Moldova could follow “the same path as Ukraine” if it moved closer to the West and the European Union. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Brussels on Thursday that his intelligence services had detected plans by Moscow to attack the small country, which was also a former Soviet republic. The fact that the head of the Moldovan government, Maia Sandu, announced her irrevocable resignation yesterday with few explanations, cannot but draw attention to her, also considering that some of the missiles from Putin’s latest strike against Ukraine passed over their territory. Is it crazy to attack Moldova when, after a year of war, the Kremlin has not made any significant progress in Ukraine? After what happened a year ago now, when no one except the Polish leadership believed that Russia would dare to invade Ukraine, the forecasts were very precarious. For now, Moldova trusts that its constitutional status as a neutral country, which is currently key to everything, will be respected. But if Russia had achieved any of its military objectives, for example the conquest of the entire Ukrainian seafront outside Odessa, the conquest of Moldova would not only be simple, but practically inevitable. From the positions that Russia holds in the rebellious region of Transnistria, with more than 1,500 men and a large stock of weapons (it is true that they are old, but in not insignificant quantities), it would have closed the clamp on the rest of the regions. Moldova without much difficulty. The failure of the main orb now makes this an option that is theoretically impractical, but in no way out of the question. What is within Putin’s reach are destabilization operations in Moldova, and this is most likely what he is doing now. Much cheaper than military attacks, they sometimes achieve far-reaching effects, such as their last attack to encourage provocation (the burning of the Koran in front of the Turkish embassy), effectively preventing Sweden’s entry into NATO. Russia’s ability to create problems for the Moldovan authorities is very great, and all the messages of support from the EU also serve to tell Putin where he needs to act to hurt Westerners as well. However, Moldova has a special prospect that could also initiate a process that is not talked about much, but no one rules it out. Originally, this country was part of the region of Bessarabia that Stalin had amputated from Romania as punishment and turned – fittingly for Russia – into a new Soviet republic. The prospect of Moldova simply choosing to reunite with Romania, as Germany did with the former GDR, would make it a full member of the European Union and NATO overnight. In fact, Romanian law has already granted a passport to all Moldovans who prove their Romanian ancestry, so this gesture would be natural. Hitherto, other European governments have viewed this prospect with far less benevolence than when the Germans sent home their eastern brethren without asking anyone’s permission. Romania’s unification with Moldova will fall to the EU’s poorest country, which is still suspected of being unable to rid itself of the old structures of corruption and organized crime. The entire European Union must bear the cost of this operation, including in response to the expected Russian reaction. However, the potential is there, and it can be launched immediately, as happened with the fall of the Wall, which, by the way, helped Putin personally as a KGB agent in Berlin.

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