DEUTSCHE WELLE ANALYSIS: ‘Fear of war is a weapon with which Russia strengthens its fifth column in Moldova’

Residents of Moldova were again gripped by the fear of the possible spread of war conflicts on the territory of their country. The occasion is a recent publication on the website of the so-called of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tiraspol, the capital of the separatist region of Transnistria. It was officially announced there that the “minister” Vitaly Ingatiev during a virtual meeting with several Russian officials, expressed “concern” about the “increased pressure” on Transnistria, which is causing an increase in the capacity of the Moldovan army.

According to his opinion, the background of this is the “conflict over Transnistria that has not been finally resolved”. In addition, Ignatiev said, there is an increased “repression of everything Russian” in Moldova. This is the old narrative of pro-Russian separatists, which Russia usually uses to justify its military aggression against independent states such as Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Ignatiev complains to the Russians

In a virtual meeting, Ignatyev reported that the leadership in Chisinau has significantly increased military spending in the state budget for 2023 – including for the purchase of weapons in the West. He also complained about the “technical and financial assistance” that the Moldovan army receives from the EU and the USA. Chisinau thereby increases the compatibility of its army with NATO systems, Ignatiev assessed. And there are also, as he said, attempts of the Moldovan leadership to “achieve at the international level the withdrawal of Russian units from Transnistria and the dissolution of the Russian peacekeeping mission”.

The fact is that Chisinau, due to the security threat posed by the Russian war against Ukraine, is increasingly talking about the necessity of having modern weapon systems. Part of that strategy is the acquisition of German armored transport vehicles of the Piranha type. The first vehicles were already officially delivered on January 12.

According to public opinion polls, meanwhile, 70 percent of Moldovan citizens are convinced of the necessity of modernizing the national army.

Fear of imprisonment for separatism

At the meeting, Ignatyev also expressed his concern over the recently adopted law in the Moldovan parliament, which stipulates punitive measures, including imprisonment, for separatism and subversive actions against the state.

The virtual meeting also took part Leonid Manakov, manager of the so-called representative office of Transnistria in Moscow. He proposed the establishment of an expert group that would develop a mechanism to defend the rights of the residents of Transnistria and Russian citizens living in that region.

A dangerous attempt at intimidation

Nantoi Oasisa parliamentary representative of the ruling pro-European party Action and Solidarity (PAS) in Moldova, told DW that the information, published on the website of the separatist institution, is “part of the standard technology by which Russia tries to instill fear among Moldovans, in order to obtain new concessions from Chisinau.” That reaction, says Nantoi, shows the hypocrisy of the regime in the Kremlin, which in his opinion “fascist” and characterized by “a personalized dictatorship that destroys everything that means political democracy and human rights”.

Fear of war is the weapon with which Russia is now strengthening its fifth column in Moldova, because it believes that it will subdue the government in Chisinau, Nantoi is convinced. And at the same time he points out: “We remain united in solidarity with Ukraine and work on the legal foundations for the peaceful abolition of the separatist regime in Tiraspol.”

Republic of Moldova armored vehicles from GermanyTanks from Germany in Moldova (Photo: Elena Covalenco)

Everything depends on the victory of Ukraine

Moldovan officials have repeatedly warned that resolving the conflict over Transnistria depends on Ukraine winning the war against Russia. In the 1990s, Transnistria broke away from Moldova with Russian support.

On the fate of Russian soldiers, who were deployed in Transnistria without a legal basis, the Moldovan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicu Popescu recently said that Moldova is seeking peaceful solutions for the evacuation of Russian units from Transnistria. “The illegal presence of Russian troops on the territory of the Republic of Moldova is a factor of instability both for the Republic of Moldova and for the entire region. The only mechanism by which we want to achieve the withdrawal of those soldiers from our national territory is diplomacy, negotiations and dialogue with the Russian and Transnistrian sides,” Popescu emphasized.

“Destruction of the Republic of Moldova”

Members of the Russian Duma simultaneously threaten the Republic of Moldova with destruction if it decides to join NATO. He uttered that threat Leonid Kalashnikov, chairman of the Committee on CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States of 12 former Soviet republics) in the Russian Parliament. Previously, she was the President of Moldova Maia Sandu at the World Economic Forum in Davos, she stated that her country could renounce its neutrality in favor of integration into “one big alliance”.

Kalashnikov said: “If Moldovans want to destroy their own country, this is the best way. If they believe that like Finland and Sweden they can secretly and quickly take advantage of the situation and join NATO and nothing will happen to them, they should remember that Finland has two official languages ​​and respects its people.” The Republic of Moldova with Gagauzia and Transnistria has two regions where Russian-speaking people live and who expressed their will a long time ago, in the early 90s, Kalashnikov reminded.

She reacted in a similar way Svetlana Jurova, vice president of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma. She said that the Republic of Moldova has recently angered Russia several times with its decisions and asked the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to react to it.

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