NARRATIVES: 1. The Republic of Moldova is ready to ally itself with a NATO state against Russia. 2. Chișinău and Bucharest are preparing the annexation of the Republic of Moldova by Romania.
BACKGROUND: With a underequipped military and a pro-Russian conflict in the east of its territory, which is also home to a Russian military force, the small state of Moldova is the most vulnerable in the event of an expansion of the conflict in Ukraine. Chișinău authorities have said on countless occasions they are holding talks with external partners with a view for securing support in order to enhance military and security resilience. These statements are interpreted by Moscow as a violation of the neutrality of Moldova and its alliance with NATO states hostile to Russia.
On July 29, Maia Sandu paid a visit to Bucharest. During a press conference held jointly with Romania’s president, Maia Sandu has reiterated the vulnerabilities facing her country. When asked by journalists what kind of support the Republic of Moldova is expecting to see from Romania in case the conflict in Ukraine spills into the region, Maia Sandu said Chișinău authorities will ask for help, although she didn’t specify who they will turn to.
“We are concerned and we are preparing for all possible scenarios, even the worst-case. More exactly, we are preparing for all possible outcomes. In case Russia will try to attack the Republic of Moldova, we will obviously call for help”, Maia Sandu argued.
PURPOSE: To present the Republic of Moldova as a country hostile to Russia, which is ready to ally with NATO states against it. To promote the idea that a possible support from Romania will also result in the annexation of the Republic of Moldova.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The Republic of Moldova is a neighbor of Romania (the only EU state it has borders with) and everyone expects Moldova to rely on Bucharest for support in case Russia chooses to attack, all the more so as the two countries are bound by a special relationship and share a linguistic and cultural affinity. Maia Sandu didn’t however specify that the Republic of Moldova will call on Romania for help. The Moldovan president merely said her country will call for support.
On the other hand, it is unlikely Romania will be willing to get involved in a possible conflict with the Russian Federation, a nuclear power that has a conventional army that overpowers the Romanian one in terms of numbers and equipment. Romania is indeed a member of NATO, but it benefits from NATO protection under Article 5 only if it is attacked, not if it gets involved in a conflict. Besides, NATO has clearly showed it wants to avoid a confrontation with the Russian Federation. Therefore, NATO is expected to discourage any member state from getting involved in such a conflict. A similar opposition is also expected from the European Union.
Most likely, in case the Republic of Moldova is attacked, it can rely on economic, humanitarian and military support, just as Ukraine receives support from the West at present, although a military intervention is ruled out.
A military alliance between the Republic of Moldova and a NATO state would be invalidated by the former’s neutrality status, which the majority population supports.
As regards “the annexation” of the Republic of Moldova by Romania, there has never been an official discussion about the unification of the two countries, and from a political point of view, this would be impossible considering the majority of the population of the Republic of Moldova opposes this move.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: Maia Sandu said in Bucharest that the Republic of Moldova will call for help in case Russia attacks.