Status: 03/15/2023 00:00
The Republic of Moldova should break away from the West and strive for a future alongside Russia – a strategy paper said to have come from the Kremlin says how that should go. WDR, NDR and SZ is available.
The nervousness in the Republic of Moldova can now be seen almost every day. Thousands of people protested again on the streets of the capital Chisinau at the weekend. Chants aimed at the pro-European government. In this context, the police took action: seven suspects were arrested. The accusation: A pro-Russian network is said to have worked with the help of Russian secret services on “destabilizing actions” that are said to have been organized “by means of demonstrations” in Moldova.
Even if Moscow has always dismissed such allegations as “fake,” things are seething in the former Soviet republic, which has a population of just over 2.5 million. The situation has worsened since the Russian attack on Ukraine in February 2022.
Stir up pro-Russian sentiment
Russia appears to have had a plan in Moldova for a long time. A document shows that WDR, NDR and “Süddeutsche Zeitung” could evaluate with international partners. Accordingly, before the war began, in the summer of 2021, Russia’s presidential administration is said to have set out in a strategy paper how to promote pro-Russian tendencies and at the same time prevent the country from turning to the west.
On five pages, the strategic plan summarizes Russia’s political, military, security, trade, economic and social goals in Moldova. The document apparently comes from the same experts who are said to have drafted a strategy for the annexation of Belarus. The presidential administration left an inquiry about the alleged plans for Moldova unanswered.
Moldova is seen in the document as an important arena for a confrontation with the West. A key Russian goal for the next ten years is to “counteract attempts by external actors to interfere in the internal affairs of the republic.” This is aimed at NATO. They want to prevent the position of the Russian Federation from being weakened.
At the same time, Moscow appears to want to provide assistance when it comes to Moldova’s possible participation in associations dominated by Russia. Specifically, according to the paper, it is about the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). “Pro-Russian sentiment” is to be stirred up among elites from politics and business.
More lessons in Russian
Russia apparently wants to use “Moldova’s interest in the Russian sales market” as a means of economic pressure: This is intended to prevent the country’s government from “damaging Russian interests in the region.” Apparently there are also plans for the education sector. According to the paper, “distance learning in Russian” will be expanded for Moldovan students. According to the strategy paper, Russian universities should open their branches in Moldova. According to the paper, in the long-term perspective up to 2030, a “negative attitude towards NATO” should be created in Moldovan society and political circles. In addition, a “wide presence of Russian media” in Moldova should be secured by then.
Western security experts consider the paper to be authentic. A high-ranking Western secret service official says: Moscow is about “putting a stop sign to the west.” For Stefan Meister, head of the International Order and Democracy program at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) think tank, one thing is particularly clear in the paper: one sees oneself in “direct competition” with the EU and NATO and is trying to to counter their narratives.
Transnistria as gateway
The outbreak of war in Ukraine has now apparently ensured that the struggle over Moldova is no longer a matter of years. As Moldova moves west and adopts reforms, Russia’s influence could wane if it doesn’t take a more proactive approach. How fragile the situation in Moldova is became apparent in February: within a few days, Russian missiles flew over Moldova into Ukraine, then the prime minister resigned and Ukraine warned that there was a detailed Russian plan for destabilization. In the West, there is concern that Moscow wants to establish facts quickly.
This is also indicated by the escalation of the situation in Transnistria with its Russian troops and what is probably the largest ammunition depot in Eastern Europe. Russian soldiers have been stationed in the self-proclaimed Republic of Transnistria since 1992. The Moldovan government had repeatedly asked the Kremlin to withdraw these troops – without success. The breakaway strip of land with almost half a million inhabitants in the east of Moldova is part of Moldova under international law. But Russia could use the frozen conflict in the region as a gateway.
“Targeted Russian Activities”
According to the internal strategy plan, it says that in the short term, i.e. within a few years, Moldova should reverse those measures that exerted political or economic pressure on Transnistria. One of the points explicitly addresses Russian troops: Moldovan initiatives that wanted to abolish the Russian military presence in Transnistria should be “neutralized”.
The German government is also closely monitoring the situation: The Foreign Office says that the Moldovan crisis was made worse by “targeted Russian destabilization activities.” The federal government has received reports about the “staging of protests in Moldova by Russian actors”.
A few days ago it became clear how tense and opaque the situation is. The Russian state news agency Ria reported that there had been allegedly thwarted assassination attempts on high-ranking officials in Transnistria. According to the Reuters agency, the pro-Russian authorities in Transnistria blamed Ukrainian intelligence services. Moldova said it was investigating the process. Kiev, in turn, rejected the allegations and referred to Russia: That’s where the aggressor is based. Moscow is looking for an excuse to intervene in Transnistria – and then to bring the entire Republic of Moldova under control.
The following were involved in the research: Yahoo News, Delfi Estonia, Kyiv Independent, Expressen, Frontstory.pl, VSQuare, Belarusian Investigative Center, Dossier Center, Rise, Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR and WDR
Internal strategy paper: Kremlin’s plan for Moldova
Palina Milling, WDR, March 15, 2023 12:00 a.m