In general, recent events in the Republic of Moldova demonstrate the accumulation of internal political contradictions between the branches of power, due to their diametrically opposed political views. President of the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon continues to develop contacts with the Russian Federation, while his focus is on preparing for future parliamentary elections, which, in the opinion of the President of the Republic of Moldova, must reformat the political map of the country in favor of Russia. The government and parliament are trying to block pro-Russian presidential dramas, continue to implement the pro-Western vector of foreign policy, including in the security sector. This is happening against the backdrop of mass protests, which practically became the "business card" of the country's domestic political life.
Development of the political situation
The main event that influenced the foreign policy situation in the Republic of Moldova (RM) was the meeting in Moscow of the 14.07.2018 year by the Presidents of the Republic of Moldova I.Dodon and Russian Federation V.Putin. The leaders of the countries met during the visit to the World Cup by I.Dodon, which demonstrates, on the one hand, the desire of the president of the Republic of Moldova once again to demonstrate their pro-Russian preferences and personal commitment to the Kremlin leader, and on the other - the importance of the Moldavian direction in the foreign policy of the Russian Federation. I.Dodon once asked Vladimir Putin not to withdraw Russian peacekeeping forces from Transnistria, which are there from 1992 year after the freezing of the conflict. He called them successful and stressed the need to continue it, arguing that it was supposedly supporting the actions of "Russian peacekeepers" by the majority of citizens of the Republic of Moldova. In addition, I.Dodon once again assured the Russian side of the unchangeability of its foreign policy views and in an effort to further develop the vector of foreign policy of the country towards Moscow. He added that changing the current situation (meaning the pro-European government and parliament of the Republic of Moldova) will succeed after the parliamentary elections scheduled for the end of November 2018 р.
The Russian side, for its part, emphasized that it closely monitors the development of the situation in the Republic of Moldova, and will fully contribute to the initiatives of the President of the Republic of Moldova with the so-called "normalization of the Russian-Moldovan relations". In this key, the recent appointment of a new special representative of the President of the Russian Federation on the development of trade and economic relations with Moldova - Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak is important. Previously, this post was occupied by former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, but in August 2017, the Government of the Republic of Moldova declared Rogozin a non grata person. The newly appointed special representative for Moldova, D.Kozak, is famous for being the author of the famous memorandum on the Transnistrian settlement proposed by President Putin in 2003 year.
Recall that the Memorandum on the main principles of the state system of the united state (2003) supposedly foreseen the reintegration of Transnistria through the federalization of Moldova, but in fact intended to finally establish control by the RF over all aspects of the foreign and domestic policy of Chisinau. The "federal trap" envisaged a special status of the so-called "Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublika" ("PMR") and Gagauzia with the possibility of blocking unwanted bills of the state. In addition, the Republic of Moldova was supposed to maintain neutrality, to demobilize the army and to grant Russia the right to deploy Russian troops on the territory of Transnistria for a term of 20 years. At the last moment, then-president of the Republic of Moldova Volodymyr Voronin refused to sign the document, noting that he gives one-sided advantages to the so-called "PMR" and has a hidden goal - Russia's recognition of the independence of Transnistria.
According to analysts, D.Kozak's appointment says:
the increased attention of the Kremlin to Moldova and the region as a whole, and the preparation of the Russian Federation for a possible victory of the pro-Russian forces in the parliamentary elections of the Republic of Moldova;
the strengthening of economic ties between the RF and the Republic of Moldova in order to include in the economic supranational entities with the leadership of the RF;
the resuscitation of the failed attempt of the federalization of the Republic of Moldova (on conditions favorable to the Kremlin) for the final consolidation of Chisinau in the sphere of influence of the Russian Federation (in the case of the implementation of the first two points).
The main trend in domestic policy is the active preparation for the forthcoming parliamentary elections of the Republic of Moldova to be held in 25.02.2019. At the same time, the alignment of political forces at the moment can contribute to the implementation of pro-Russian scenarios. According to the latest sociological research of the Association of Sociologists and Demographers of the Republic of Moldova, three political parties will enter the Parliament: the Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PSDM, with 38,9%), the Action and Solidarity Party (PDS, with 15,1%) and the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPRM) - 7,2% . The remaining parties, according to the polls, would have scored less than 6% needed for parliamentary elections. Thus, nowadays, the PSBM, which adheres to the pro-Russian foreign policy vector, prefers support, and opposes the country's accession to the EU. At the same time, the PSBM for decision-making will have to form a parliamentary majority (51%) of the total number of MPs (101 deputy).
Also, due to numerous protests that do not subsist in the Republic of Moldova, the internal political situation remains unstable. Recall that in June this year a protest rally began on the decision of the court to cancel the election results of the mayor of Chisinau. According to the results of the vote, the winner of the second round in the local elections was the only candidate from three pro-European parties, the leader of the party "Goodness and Truth" Andriy Nestase (53% of voters). His rival - PSDM candidate Ion Cheban - took second place (47% of votes). The Socialists did not agree with such results and appealed to the court, which invalidated the results of the elections, which resulted in the center-right forces organizing a protest rally.
Aspects of the economic situation
Against the backdrop of an unstable internal political situation, there is some improvement in the economic situation in the state. According to the IMF Executive Board's conclusion on the basis of the third assessment mission, a number of measures were taken in the country to stabilize the banking system and ensure fiscal policy. At the same time, official Chisinau was recommended to follow the decisions made and continue implementing reforms. Efforts are also needed to ensure transparency and stability in the energy sector and to maintain macroeconomic stability. As a result, the IMF has allocated to Moldova another tranche of financial assistance - $ 33,7 million. According to data published by the National Bank of Moldova, the official reserve assets of the RM reached a record level of $ 2,923 billion, which is $ 113 million more compared with the end of last year .
It is also worth noting the strengthening of the national currency - the Moldovan Leu, which became one of the strongest national currencies in the post-Soviet space. In the first six months of this year, the Moldovan Leu grew by about one and a half percent in relation to the dollar. Only in two other countries of the former USSR (Ukraine - 6,7%, Georgian Lari - 6%) the national currency strengthened more lei.
In the field of security, the main event was the adoption by the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova 19.07.2018 of the National Defense Strategy for 2018-2021 years and the Action Plan for its implementation.
According to the document, the RM has a neutral status, which at the same time is indicated in the Constitution of the country. The threats to national security are the presence of the Russian military contingent in the country and the presence of Transnistrian military forces.
It should be noted that this is not about Russian peacekeepers, but about the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRR) in the Republic of Moldova, which is located on the territory of Transnistria. This grouping (numbering approximately 1700 Russian servicemen) is the successor to the former 14 Joint Army Army and is subordinate to the headquarters of the Western Military District (St. Petersburg). In accordance with the commitments made at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul (1999), the Russian Federation should withdraw military units and armaments and replace the format of the peacekeeping operation for a civilian international mission under the auspices of the UN or the OSCE before the end of 2002. However, the Russian Federation retains its military presence on the territory of the so-called "TMR" as a factor of pressure on Moldova and Ukraine.
In addition, according to the National Strategy for Defense at 2018-2021, the threats to the national security of the Republic of Moldova are military conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. Particular attention was paid to foreign propaganda, which is also one of the most serious challenges to the national interests and values of the Republic of Moldova. It is anticipated that the PSBM negatively referred to the document, stating that the Strategy was made on the order of allies of the ruling party and aimed at worsening relations with the Russian Federation.
It should be noted that the official Kiev supports the withdrawal of the RF Armed Forces from the territory of the so-called "PMR", which is why Ukraine became one of the co-sponsors of the UN General Assembly resolution on the complete and unconditional withdrawal of foreign troops from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, which was adopted by 22.06.2018. The Russian side made a proposal to postpone the vote on the draft resolution for a more detailed discussion, but it was rejected. The resolution was supported by 64 states, including Ukraine, 14 voted against (including Armenia, Belarus, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela), 83 - abstained.
According to Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN Volodymyr Yelchenko, the Ukrainian side consistently advocates the restoration of Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and strongly condemns Russia's aggressive policy towards its neighbors. Ukraine, like no other, is well-known bearish embrace of the "Russian world" occupied by Crimea and the Donbas. At the same time, in the case of the implementation of the said Resolution of the UN General Assembly, Kiev is ready to provide an unhindered and safe way of withdrawal of Russian troops and ammunition from the territory of Transnistria. The Russian side was expected to negatively respond to the resolution of the General Assembly, noting that Russia is a guarantor of peace and stability in the region. In the same way, the authorities of the so-called "PMR" reacted, noting that no decisions on changing the format of a peacekeeping operation under the auspices of Russia can not be taken without taking into account the opinion of Transnistria. Thus, I.Dodon himself expressed himself negatively, calling the UN resolution on Transnistria anti-Russian demarches.
The situation in Transnistria
It is obvious that Transnistria remains the focus of the leadership of the Republic of Moldova, both at the international and national levels. In addition to the resolution of the UN General Assembly and the National Defense Strategy, the RM is developing an action plan to implement the UN resolution on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova Tudor Ulyanovsky, at the very beginning - this will be an internal plan of action. In addition, diplomatic channels will be activated to secure international support and "joint efforts to achieve this important UN instrument". At the same time, most experts are inclined to fail to implement these initiatives of Chisinau in connection with the diametrically opposed position of Moscow, which considers the preservation of OGRR as a guarantor of ensuring the interests of the RF in the region. There is also a military activity on the territory of Transnistria. According to the head of the parliament of the Republic of Moldova Andrian Kandu, 5 in July with. The sausage on the territory of the so-called "PMR" was recorded dozens of trucks without license plates that carried weapons and ammunition. Any attempts by the Joint Control Commission to find out where, for which purpose ammunition was transported, failed. Probably, it was carried out to provide units of OGRR with ammunition from the local arsenal, including for the purpose of informational pressure on Chisinau. Andriy Candu called these actions a hybrid war at the level of cyberattack and propaganda. In this context, he recalled Russia's threats related to the supply of gas and electricity to Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia.
Influence of other players in the region
In addition to Russia, the region has the influence of Romania, which at the international and bilateral level supports the European aspirations of Chisinau. It should be noted that Romania was one of the initiators of the aforementioned UN General Assembly resolution on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria. Also, it is worth recalling that in March this year in Chisinau a demonstration took place in which over 10 thousand people took part in favor of the reunification of Romania and Moldova. Former Romanian President Traian Basescu called on the parliaments of Moldova and Romania to vote for the union. In spite of the fact that this is unlikely, the problem highlights the competitive struggle for influence in Moldova between Russia and Romania, as a result of which both parties support the opposing political groups and civic movements in the country. In the same way, there is the EU's influence on a situation that works with the help of both political and economic instruments, trying to put pressure on Chisinau. For example, according to Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, due to problems with the rule of law in the Republic of Moldova, there may be problems with the first tranche of € 100 million financial aid, which was planned for autumn.
From the above it can be concluded that the internal political situation in Moldova remains unstable, which is due to the growing opposition between the pro-Western and pro-Russian forces in the country. At the international level, I.Dodon tries to intensify contacts with the Russian Federation and enlist the support of the Kremlin in favor of the PSDM in the elections to the parliament. On the other hand, the government and parliament of the Republic of Moldova are pursuing a consistent pro-European policy, evidencing the adoption of the National Defense Strategy for 2018-2021 years and the Action Plan for its implementation. These documents directly call the presence of OGRR in the country and the presence of Transnistrian military forces threats to the national security of the country. It is worth noting the diplomatic efforts of the Republic of Moldova, which resulted in the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly, which is considered by the government of the state as the basis for further steps in the implementation of the plan for withdrawal of foreign troops from the territory of the country. Russia is actively opposed to such pro-European initiatives, as evidenced by the appointment of a new special representative of the President of the Russian Federation on the development of trade and economic relations with the Republic of Moldova D.Kozak, an attempt to influence the adoption of the GA resolution, etc. In addition, Russian troops on the territory of the so-called "PMR" conduct demonstrative military actions aimed at implementing psychological pressure on Chisinau.
Yuriy Poyta, expert of the CACRC
Ivan Kotov, trainee of the CDCA