The Republic of Moldova will have to send soldiers “to the war launched by NATO against Russia”, is a new variation of the Russian propaganda narratives about the involvement of the Republic of Moldova in the war that, in fact, Moscow started against Ukraine. The narrative was launched by Rubaltic.ru, and picked up by the Chisinau press.
NEWS: “NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg said at the end of the Vilnius summit that if Ukraine does not win, then the question of its accession to NATO will not be considered at all, which, first of all, would mean that Kyiv should forget about becoming part of this military block and, secondly, it would demonstrate almost openly why NATO needs Ukraine. Stoltenberg's statement can be interpreted in the sense that, if Ukraine does not win, NATO will activate other options of military actions against Russia, with the use of other “live forces” and in other theaters of operations. One of these theaters could be the Republic of Moldova”.
[...] “Essentially, the Republic of Moldova is gradually but surely turned into a powder keg. The PAS government has already turned the country into a transit zone for mercenaries, weapons and ammunition, which are sent to Ukraine. At the same time, it is obvious that NATO has no intention of intervening and protecting the Moldovans, in case the Republic of Moldova should answer for the support given to the Kyiv regime.”
[...] “The participation of the Republic of Moldova, which is not a member state, in the NATO summit, is evidence that the country will soon receive the necessary support for the development of its military potential and the preparation for a possible open conflict with the Russian Federation”.
[...] “The Deputy Secretary General of NATO stated that a “team of top professionals on resilience issues has been sent, who will provide opinions and recommendations for the authorities in Chisinau, in order to have a more integrated, modern and robust vision of its resilience”.
In fact, Geoană suggested that the price that the Republic of Moldova will have to pay for the wish to become a member of the EU (or, more precisely, just to get closer to this goal) is the militarization of the country and the willingness to become the next supplier of soldiers for the conflict launched by NATO against Russia”.
NARRATIVES: 1. NATO, which pushed Ukraine into the fight against Russia, could open other theaters of war, including in Moldova. 2. In order to join the EU, the Republic of Moldova will have to send soldiers to the “war started by NATO against Russia”.
LOCAL CONTEXT/ ETHOS: The Republic of Moldova is a neutral state, according to one of the provisions of the contested Constitution of 1994. The collaboration of the Republic of Moldova with NATO began in the 1990s, and one of the most important projects of NATO was the evacuation of significant quantities of pesticides, left over from the Soviet era, which posed a danger for the environment and was poisoning the soil and water.
NATO - The scarecrow of Soviet propaganda
However, the North Atlantic Alliance is still presented as a scarecrow to a good part of the population of the Republic of Moldova, who sees it through the lens of Soviet propaganda and, more recently, of the Russian Federation. In this context, polls show that approximately 25-30% of the country's population would opt for NATO membership, but the majority is in favor of maintaining neutrality, even though Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the 2008 invasion of Georgia have shown that this status is not a security solution.
In 2006, during the communist government, the Republic of Moldova signed an Individual Action Plan with NATO, which is periodically updated.
After Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the government in Chisinau has repeatedly emphasized the need to strengthen security and received assurances and support from its Western partners to strengthen its defense capabilities. This fueled Russian propaganda narratives about the intention of the Republic of Moldova to join NATO, or even to get involved in the war in Ukraine against Russia.
PURPOSE: To maintain and emphasize in the collective memory of the target audience the narrative persistently promoted by Russian propaganda that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was forced by NATO’s aggression against it; to inoculate the idea that the Republic of Moldova, “fully controlled by the West”, is prepared to go to war against Russia; to fuel the phobias of a good part of the population of the Republic of Moldova regarding the risk of the country's involvement in the war; to associate NATO, the military bloc, with the European Union in order to reduce the population's support for the country's accession to the European community.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The narrative about the West/NATO/the US causing the war in Ukraine is a staple of Soviet propaganda, which over time “has evolved” into the “NATO attack on Russia”. The Kremlin is thus trying to justify its aggression to the international public opinion, but also to its own citizens. The NATO member states, even if they support Ukraine militarily, did not get involved in the war.
The narrative about the Republic of Moldova being prepared to become a theater of war is not new either, but it is totally devoid of logic, given that this country has neither military, nor economic, nor human capabilities for such actions, even if it received support from NATO. Furthermore, it is not clear why NATO would be interested in bringing a war with Russia to its borders.
On the contrary, in the final declaration of the summit in Vilnius, the NATO member states reiterate their support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova, within its internationally recognized borders, and call on Russia to withdraw all its forces stationed in the Transnistrian region without the consent of the Republic of Moldova. At the same time, the allies stress that they respect the neutrality status of the Republic of Moldova. “We are firm in our support for Moldova's right to decide its own future and course of foreign policy without external interference and fully respect Moldova's constitutional neutrality”.
Russian propaganda has also insinuated that the road to the EU necessarily passes through NATO, but the variation that in order to get closer to the European Union, the Republic of Moldova will have to send soldiers to the “NATO conflict against Russia” is a new one.
The Republic of Moldova obtained the status of a candidate country for EU accession in June 2022, having been presented with nine basic conditionalities related to ensuring the rule of law, the fight against corruption, and economic reforms. None of these refer to the neutral status/NATO membership or adopting an anti-Russian policy. Any country that meets the conditions for membership can apply. Known as the “Copenhagen criteria”, these conditions include the existence of a stable democracy and the rule of law, a functioning market economy and acceptance of EU legislation.
The narrative that joining NATO is a condition for obtaining EU membership is also false, given that the European Community has accepted several neutral states - Ireland, Austria, Sweden, Finland - into its ranks. The latter two applied for NATO membership after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when they considered that neutrality no longer ensured their security.
On the other hand, there are NATO member states that are not EU members, including from the European continent. Turkey, for example, the NATO country with the second largest army, has not passed the status of a candidate country for 23 years.
How the Kremlin strengthened NATO
Russia's war in Ukraine has reignited discussions about the best solution to providing security (as has happened elsewhere in the world), and several officials have said that neutrality does not provide that security, as the Russian invasion in the neighboring country has shown. However, the government in Chisinau, including the president Maia Sandu, have stated on several occasions that the change in this status can only be produced through a referendum.
Moreover, the Russian invasion triggered talks about the need to ensure security in much safer states with a history of neutrality. Sweden and Finland renounced it and requested to be accepted into NATO to ensure their security. Finland already achieved NATO membership in April 2023, with the parliaments of Turkey and Hungary still to ratify Sweden's accession.
Also, the authors of the article truncated the statements made by Mircea Geoană for Agerpres. The NATO official stressed that NATO was ready to support Moldova "while fully respecting its constitutional neutrality”.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: Following the Russian invasion in Ukraine, Chisinau authorities have opted for strengthening relations with NATO and its defense capabilities.