Published On: Mon, Apr 1st, 2024

Former Soviet country could start a new Russia-led conflict in the EU | World | News

In the heart of eastern Europe, Moldova finds itself embroiled in a geopolitical tug-of-war that threatens to reignite long-standing tensions. The recent decision by Moldova to join the EU‘s sanctions against Russia has escalated the conflict, drawing sharp rebuke from Moscow and sparking fears of destabilisation.

Stanislav Pavlovschi, former Moldovan Justice Minister and former ECHR judge, emphasised the complexity of Moldova’s relationship with the breakaway Transnistrian region, which has proven to be a persistent challenge despite numerous attempts at resolution.

He pointed out the need for a multifaceted approach, steering away from the use of force and instead stressing diplomatic, economic, and political strategies.

He told “The relationship between Moldova and the Transnistrian region presents a complex political challenge that has eluded resolution despite numerous attempts. Why? The answer lies in the misguided approach of employing force to solve the issue.”

He added: “By force, I don’t mean military might, as Moldova lacks the capacity for military resolution. Instead, I refer to diplomatic, economic, and political tactics.

“Furthermore, I hold the firm belief that genuine efforts to resolve this frozen conflict are lacking. Transnistria stands as a shadowy entity on Europe’s map, generating vast sums of illicit income through its shadow economy.

“It’s evident that certain individuals, both within and beyond the Dniester, profit from the unconstitutional Transnistrian regime, especially considering its trade with the European Union. To address this situation, we must first identify and address the root causes of the Transnistrian conflict.

“It’s imperative that the residents of Transnistria recognize and experience the benefits of unity within Moldova. Failure to do so risks perpetuating the frozen conflict for generations.”

He added: “Western involvement and the UN’s expertise in establishing administrations could prove beneficial. However, a pragmatic approach is essential. Without such measures, European integration may inadvertently introduce Moldovan corruption and the Transnistrian conflict into Europe. It’s undeniable that Russia wields significant influence over Transnistria.

“As highlighted by the European Court of Human Rights in its ruling on the Ilascu and others case, the existence of the Transnistrian regime is sustained by economic, political, diplomatic, and military support from the Russian Federation. However, ultimately, the fate of Transnistria should be determined by its population.

“Moving forward, relations between Moldova and the Transnistrian region must be grounded in truth and consider the genuine interests of the Moldovan people.”

Pavlovschi’s concerns echo in the recent diplomatic spat between Moldova and Russia. Moscow’s Foreign Ministry condemned Moldova’s alignment with EU sanctions as a hostile act, further intensifying the narrative of Moldova’s alleged integration into the “collective West”. This narrative propagated through various channels, aims to sow doubt and insecurity within Moldova, leveraging concerns over security, economics, and history.

The spectre of instability looms large over Moldova, with Russian narratives suggesting Moldova’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and highlighting the precarious situation in Transnistria. Recent rumours alleging Transnistria’s potential annexation by Russia, though largely dismissed locally, gained traction in Western media, fuelling alarmist speculations and exacerbating tensions.

The economic repercussions of Moldova’s alignment with the EU sanctions regime, and the country’s ambitions to join the Brussels bloc, have also been felt keenly in Transnistria. Moldova’s blockage of exports from Transnistrian factories to Russia, coupled with new tax regulations, has dealt a severe blow to the breakaway region’s economy, further escalating the situation.

Faced with limited economic avenues for retaliation, Russia has resorted to a campaign of disinformation and hybrid warfare, leveraging its influence to stoke tensions and undermine Moldova’s stability.

The closure of a Japanese auto parts plant in Comrat due to concerns over Moldova’s alignment with NATO further underscores the economic ramifications of the ongoing geopolitical struggle.

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