The new pro-Western government in Chisinau wants good relations with Russia because it is the most important economic partner of the Republic of Moldova, according to a commentary published by the Kremlin's loudspeaker, Sputnik. The West would be unable to support Moldova, which needs Russia to survive, the commentary also reads, continuing the series of false narratives launched during the election campaign.
NEWS: “The whole meaning of the Western vector in the CIS countries comes down to a simple scheme - we will be friends with the West, but the East will have to feed us. Such a dual orientation in the CIS countries is required, because in the given situation it is not possible otherwise. The West cannot feed them”, claims the director of the Russian Institute for Regional Affairs, Dmitri Juravlyov, quoted by Sputnik.md. The Russian expert commented on the recent statement made by the leader of the “Action and Solidarity” Party (PAS), Igor Grosu, regarding the intention to build fair and pragmatic relations with Russia.
“Relations are in danger of deteriorating. You can't have two opposite vectors at the same time. A propagandistic deterioration will most likely occur. But a sudden deterioration is unlikely because we started with this: who should feed us? Apples must be sold to Russia anyway, Russian transit routes should be used and so on, according to the list”, Juravlyov says. “Russia will build relations with this government as well. We are not one single people, as in the case of Ukraine, but we are close peoples. It makes sense for us to cooperate. But if the Moldovan side is too harsh in its propagandistic statements, then economic relations will weaken”, according to the director of the Institute for Regional Affairs.
Commenting on Grosu's statements about the prospects for a Transnistrian settlement, Juravlyov said that “There will be an increase in activism during negotiations. The thing is, though, that progress in the negotiations depends on the ability to compromise”.
Sputnik writes in this context that “the Transnistrian region, which has 60% Russian and Ukrainian inhabitants, sought to secede from Moldova just before the collapse of the USSR, fearing that Moldova would join Romania, carried by the nationalist wave. In 1992, after an attempt by the Moldovan authorities to resolve the Transnistrian conflict using military means, the region on the left bank of the Dniester came out of Chisinau's control. Russian peacekeepers were brought to the conflict zone on July 29, 1992, in accordance with an agreement signed by the presidents of the Russian Federation and Moldova”.
NARRATIVES: 1. The new pro-Western government in Chisinau wants good relations with Russia because it needs them to survive. 2. The relations with Russia are in danger of deteriorating due to the propagandistic statements made by PAS. 3. The Transnistrian region seceded from Moldova, fearing that it would join Romania after an attempt by the Moldovan authorities to resolve the conflict using military means. 4. The Russian peacekeepers were brought to the conflict zone on 29 July 1992, in accordance with an agreement signed by the Presidents of the Russian Federation and Moldova.
CONTEXT: The parliamentary elections held in the Republic of Moldova on July 11, 2021, were won by the Action and Solidarity Party, which gathered about 53% of the votes. Thus, PAS will hold 63 of the 101 seats in the Chisinau Parliament. This score allows it to form a government on its own and to support the program promoted by President Maia Sandu, who wants to adopt reforms agreed upon under the Moldova-EU Association Agreement. PAS is a pro-European party, founded by Maia Sandu in 2015. The interim president of PAS, Igor Grosu, said after winning the elections that his party was ready to form the government and that the main priorities of PAS were to clean up the justice system, to fight corruption and to attract investments in the Republic of Moldova.
The PSRM-PCRM bloc, which won only 27 percent of the votes cast in Sunday's election, said it would be part of the opposition in the next parliament. The two parties headed by the former pro-Russian presidents Igor Dodon and Vladimir Voronin will form a single parliamentary group. The electoral campaign of the Bloc of Socialists and Communists focused on geopolitical issues, and the main narratives promoted by PSRM and PCRM representatives, as well as by their affiliated press, were directed against Maia Sandu and the pro-European parties, against the West and Romania, against European ambassadors and non-governmental organizations.
The narratives were also supported by Russia. Just two days before the election, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zaharova accused the West of “unprecedented interference” in the electoral process. This speech continued even after PAS’s victory in the parliamentary elections became clear. Immediately after the election, Leonid Kalashnikov, the chairman of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, told Interfax news agency that Moscow would “activate the Transnistrian factor” if the new Chisinau administration chose the anti-Russian path.
At the same time, Konstantin Kosachev, the vice-president of the Federation Council, wrote that the “external factor” played a decisive role in the elections, referring to both the votes of the diaspora and Western diplomats. He also spoke of “attempts to force events in Transnistria, which is an obstacle in the way of Moldova's accession to the Euro-Atlantic structures”.
PURPOSE: The narratives are aimed at discrediting PAS and scaring the population that a pro-Western government will worsen economic relations with Russia and will destabilize the situation in the Transnistrian region. At the same time, the idea is credited that Russia is the country’s most important economic partner, without which Moldova couldn’t survive, the one that “feeds Moldova”, unlike the West, which “cannot feed it”.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Moldova's relations with the Russian Federation are indeed important, given that Moldova is energetically dependent on this country, has traditional economic ties going back to the time of the USSR, many Moldovan citizens work in Russia, and resolving the Transnistrian conflict depends on Moscow, which is maintaining its troops and ammunition in that area. However, Russia has not been “feeding” the Republic of Moldova for a long time now. The volume of Moldovan exports to the EU is seven times higher than that of exports to the Russian Federation. The European Union member countries are the main destination of Moldovan exports, with over 64% in the first four months of 2021. In the same period, 9% of the Moldovan exports went to the Russian Federation. Trade with the Russian Federation has decreased significantly since 2014 due to the embargo on Moldovan products, introduced by Moscow for political reasons, after the signing of the Moldova-EU Association Agreement. The Russian expert's comment is part of a string of narratives coming from Russia during the campaign and immediately after the election, according to which a pro-European government will damage the relations between Chisinau and Moscow and will destabilize the situation in the Transnistrian area. Referring to the relations with the Russian Federation, President Maia Sandu has repeatedly spoken out in favor of good relations with that country and stressed that such relations must be in the best interest of the Republic of Moldova and its citizens, not in the interest of certain groups of individuals. In turn, the PAS leader Igor Grosu stated, during a show on TVR Moldova, that he was in favor of correct, pragmatic, and predictable relations with Russia. Regarding the Transnistrian region, after taking over the presidential office, Maia Sandu reiterated Chisinau’s official position, demanding the withdrawal of the troops and ammunition illegally stationed on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, according to the commitments made by the Russian Federation. The Transnistrian conflict broke out in 1992, triggered by the separatist regime in Tiraspol, openly supported by the Russian Federation through the involvement of the 14th Army. Part of the ammunition and troops of the 14th Army were placed in the Transnistrian region after the withdrawal of the Soviet armed forces from Eastern Europe. The weapon depots have not been evacuated since, despite Russia's international commitments, and are guarded by Russian troops. Following the conclusion of the 1992 Moldovan-Russian Ceasefire Agreement, in addition to Russian troops on the peacekeeping mission in the security zone, about 700 soldiers from the Operational Group of Russian Forces are illegally stationed in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova, which regularly conduct military exercises together with the Transnistrian separatist forces.