Two Western diplomats visited the Republic of Moldova last week to discuss its involvement in the war in Ukraine, writes the Donetk publication trmsk.ru. In reality, the talks did not concern Moldova's involvement in the war; on the contrary, the country is actually exposed to the risk of a Russian operation.
NEWS: “The Sandu government has recently received 320 million USD from the “big brother”. Hogan gave assurances that if the Moldovans continued to be obedient, they would receive another 300 million. Officially, it will take the form of assistance for “energy security”.
Former president Igor Dodon has no doubt that Dereck Hogan did not come just to praise the Moldovan authorities for being obedient and to promise another 300 million. “I believe that Hogan came to try and convince Maia Sandu to do something that she most likely wouldn’t do. It is a matter related to Transnistria. I think that the Americans want a kind of Ukrainianization of the Republic of Moldova, which is very risky for our country”.
Dodon recalled that Hogan kept his influence over the Moldovan authorities – Maia Sandu won the 2021 presidential elections [actually they took place in 2020 - editor’s note], only thanks to the efforts made by the American ambassador.
He agrees with Dodon and Moldovan journalist Anton Șveț. He warned even before the American diplomat's visit that the “Western partners” would soon ask Chisinau to prove its loyalty.
“Washington and Bucharest - key players in our politics - will not remain indifferent for too long to the requests of Ukraine, which is fighting in favor of NATO, to receive more weapons. They will propose a deal to Chisinau - more military supplies to Kyiv in exchange for a clear prospect of joining NATO and the EU. It is about weapons that are kept on the territory of Transnistria. Obviously, the Moldovan army is not able to take over these deposits. But, in accordance with the provisions of international law, we can address such a request to Ukraine. Ukrainian politicians, including President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, have repeatedly stated that they are ready to help”.
The second international guest who visited Moldova was the head of British diplomacy, James Cleverly, who had talks with his counterpart, Nicu Popescu.
Popescu, in a fit of gratitude, said that Great Britain was “Moldova's main trading partner”, though Chisinau's exports to the foggy Albion account for 1.7% of all Moldovan exports. Moldova’s main trading partner has always been Russia. But they would say just about anything in order to please the Western curators.”
NARRATIVES: 1. Kyiv and Chisinau, with the support of the West, are preparing a military attack on Transnistria, controlled by pro-Russian forces. 2. The pro-European government in Chisinau is a vassal to the West, which helped it come to power. 3. Russia is the most important trading partner of the Republic of Moldova.
LOCAL CONTEXT/ETHOS: The Republic of Moldova started to be in the focus of the international community’s attention with the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The country, which is facing a secessionist conflict in the east, where a region controlled by Russia was formed, is considered the most vulnerable and Russia’s next target. Although the danger of a military invasion has decreased compared to the first months of the war, due to the resistance of the Ukrainian army, the Republic of Moldova is the target of a Russian hybrid war.
In early February, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Brussels that his country's secret services had information about that. Shortly after, the Moldovan presidency and the Intelligence and Security Service confirmed they they were aware of such a plan. Later, the White House described as “deeply worrying” the information about Russia’s plan to destabilize the political situation in the Republic of Moldova. Recently, Washington has accused Russia of trying to destabilize the situation in the Republic of Moldova. On March 14, the European Parliament also debated the situation in the Republic of Moldova and the challenges that the authorities in Chisinau have to manage during this period
On the other hand, Moscow launched accusations that the Ukrainian army was preparing an attack on the Transnistrian region, and Russian propaganda threw various scenarios into the public space, including one according to which the attack could be supported by NATO military equipment stationed in Romania .
PURPOSE: To portray Russia as the victim of a worldwide conspiracy. To justify the military invasion of Ukraine, presented as a militaristic state, ready to attack a peaceful region (Transnistria), just as it was preparing to do in the case of the separatist republics of Donbass. To justify possible actions by Russia against the Republic of Moldova, whose pro-European government has allied with Moscow’s “enemies”. To cause panic in Transnistria. To inoculate the idea that Russia is an irreplaceable strategic, economic and commercial partner for the Republic of Moldova.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The narrative about the involvement of the West in the elections in the Republic of Moldova started being promoted as early as the 2020 presidential elections, even though Vladimir Putin promised the former president in Chisinau, Igor Dodon, who was in the middle of the election campaign, support for the Republic of Moldova and wished him success in the elections. The accusations continued into the next campaign, for the parliamentary elections of June 2021, when allegations were made that the West was planning to rig the election. Veridica has identified and debunked several false narratives, launched mainly by Russian or affiliated propaganda, during the 2021 parliamentary campaign. Monitoring reports by several local and international organizations have not confirmed allegations of Western involvement and ballot rigging.
He currently serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.
The former US ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, Dereck Hogan, currently the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, visited Chisinau last week, but during the meetings with president Maia Sandu and with the Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu , did not impose any conditions for the financial aid that the USA announced for the Republic of Moldova.
The Russian propaganda has been spreading rumors about a possible Ukrainian attack on the Transnistrian region since the first months of the war. Different reasons were invoked, including to involve the Republic of Moldova in the war, or to seize the military ammunition from the warehouse in Cobasna. Although there is no verified information, some experts in Chisinau say that the ammunition in Cobasna is unusable. Moreover, the Chisinau authorities have ruled out a military scenario each time and reiterated that they are only examining peaceful conflict resolution solutions.
The Republic of Moldova, a constitutionally neutral state, has one of the smallest and poorly equipped armies in the world. In 2023, spending on the “National Defense” sector will reach approximately 76 million euros, which is around 0.7% of the GDP. Ukraine or the West are unlikely to place much value on such military support. In addition to that, the hypothetical involvement of the Republic of Moldova in the war would mean opening a front in western Ukraine, which would force it to divide its forces.
The Moldovan Foreign Minister, Nicu Popescu, did not say that Great Britain was the main trading partner of the Republic of Moldova, but that “it's one of our main trading partners”. That country was in 13th place among the recipients of Moldovan exported goods in 2022. The statement that Russia is the main trading partner of the Republic of Moldova is also false. Russia relinquished this role back in 2014, when it imposed sanctions on Moldovan goods. Since then, Romania has been the main commercial partner of the Republic of Moldova. In 2022, the trade between the two states reached about 2.9 billion dollars, followed by Ukraine with almost 1.6 billion and Russia with slightly more than 1.3 billion dollars. Russia, which indeed in the 90s of the last century practically held the monopoly of Moldovan exports, in 2022 ranked 6th, with a share of less than 4.4%, according to data provided by the National Statistics Office in Chisinau.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: The former US Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, Dereck Hogan, currently the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, James Cleverly, made separate visits to Chisinau last week.