Maia Sandu and her administration are preparing the Republic of Moldova’s NATO accession in order to embroil the country in external conflicts, at the same time fueling inter-ethnic tensions at home by arresting the Prosecutor General, Alexandr Stoianoglo. Promoted by the Russian publication Komsomoliskaya Pravda, the narratives have been spread for some time now. Its authors do not explain, however, how a state with such a small military budget, a frozen military conflict and with Russian military forces deployed on its territory could possibly join NATO.
NEWS: “Namely, the status of neutrality, recognized by the international community, could represent the basis for the unification of the Republic of Moldova and the fortification of its internal stability. But it seems this time Maia Sandu went too far. Her plan to join NATO (if not as an independent state, then possibly part of Romania), one which she no longer bothers to conceal, is causing an ever-increasing rift in Moldovan society […]
Maia Sandu’s Russophobia needs no further evidence. Suffice it to look at her participation in the “Crimea Platform”, as well as a long string of visits and negotiations, which did not include negotiations with Russia on the delivery of natural gas to Moldova. It feels like the current government in Chișinău, embodied by president Maia Sandu and her team, simply wants to be dragged into a conflict, a confrontation or some regional rivalry. It is precisely why she needs the country to join NATO. […]
It’s not enough that Moldova is divided between adepts and opponents of NATO and EU accession, but the current government led by Maia Sandu is willing to tear the country to shreds for other reasons as well. For nearly a year since she became president, Maia Sandu has not once met with regional leaders. She never started negotiations with Transnistria, which Chișinău does not recognize, and she didn’t even visit Gagauzia. The latest actions of the power in Chișinău, involving the opening of a criminal investigation targeting the prosecutor general, Alexandr Stoianoglo and his arrest, together with his wife, might well reflect back on the statehood of Moldova”.
Komsomoliskaya Pravda also writes that Alexandr Stoianoglo is a Gagauz national, and “his arrest resembles an act of oppression against Gagauz ethnics. And it’s very possible it’s not just a feeling, but a fact”.
NARRATIVES: 1. Maia Sandu and the government in Chișinău want the Republic of Moldova to join NATO and get involved in armed conflicts. 2. The pro-European administration in Chișinău has started reprisals against national minorities. 3. Maia Sandu wants the Republic of Moldova to unite with Romania.
BACKGROUND: The Republic of Moldova is a neutral state, according to the Constitution adopted in 1994, two years after the outbreak of an armed conflict in the breakaway region of Transnistria, with the participation of the Russian army as well. In 1994, the Moldovan political elite believed adopting a state of neutrality would contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict, something which didn’t happen in the nearly 30 years that followed.
NATO became the boogeyman aversion for a large part of Moldovan society. This is a legacy of the Soviet era, also fueled by some present-day politicians and the Russian state media.
The narratives about the “danger” of the Republic of Moldova joining NATO and its involvement in armed conflicts, particularly against Russia, have grown stronger after the victory of the pro-European candidate, Maia Sandu, in the presidential election of 2020, followed by the victory of her party in the parliamentary election hosted in July this year. The possibility of a union of the Republic of Moldova with Romania, which the article references briefly, has also been the object of debates. There are politicians, but also an increasing number of citizens in the Republic of Moldova who believe their country is part of Romanian space, and call for the unification of the two states. But there is equally strong opposition to such a scenario.
PURPOSE: To fuel phobias against NATO and fears of a military conflict involving the Republic of Moldova. To inflame national minorities against the pro-European regime in Chișinău.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The Republic of Moldova started cooperating with NATO in the 1990s, getting involved a plethora of programmes, most of which were non-military, such as the evacuation of Soviet-era pesticides that posed a threat to the environment and threatened to poison the country’s soil and waters.
All the cabinets in Chișinău have engaged in a dialogue with NATO and conducted programmes and partnerships at various degrees. Even the former president, Socialist Igor Dodon, a close friend of Moscow and a fierce critic of the West, had during his term in office several official meetings with the NATO leadership, which has repeatedly pointed out that it observes the Republic of Moldova’s neutrality status.
Neither Maia Sandu, nor the government in Chișinău has ever expressed the idea of kicking off talks regarding the Republic of Moldova’s NATO accession, which would actually be impossible without modifying the Constitution. Sandu and her party, PAS, don’t hold the constitutional majority, and in the case of a referendum, the majority of the population would say no to NATO accession, as all surveys show.
Even though the Republic of Moldova would renounce its neutrality and apply to join NATO, it is highly unlikely Moldova would be let in as long as it has an unsolved territorial dispute, a foreign military presence on its territory, and one of the lowest defense budgets in the world, accounting for less than 0.4% of its GDP.
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, decisions affecting “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the state”, which includes a possible union with Romania, can only be taken by referendum. Despite talks at various levels, protests and other unionist actions, Moldova’s unification with Romania has never been officially raised as a topic for debate.
The article advances a number of other falsehoods, such as the fact that Maia Sandu never visited the autonomous region of Gagauzia. In fact, Sandu visited Comrat both in 2019, while she was prime minister, and as president, in July, 2021.
Prosecutor General Alexandr Stoianoglo’s wife was not arrested, as the author claims. Besides, the story about Stoianoglo’s investigation having been triggered based on ethnic criteria is far-fetched, lacking any reasonable grounds. The prosecutor general is a central figure in the Republic of Moldova, whom politicians have always tried to influence or remove from office. Ridding the prosecutor’s office and the judiciary of incompetent and corrupt individuals was one of the priorities mentioned by PAS over the course of several years. Hence, the decision to dismiss Stoianoglo has nothing to do with his nationality and is at best part of the political struggle in Chișinău.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: The Government in Chișinău, just like previous cabinets, has opted for a good cooperation with NATO, similar to other European neutral countries, such as Austria, Finland and Sweden. The issue of Moldova’s NATO accession has never been raised.
WHO STANDS TO BENEFIT: Moscow, the Bloc of Communists and Socialists.