- Posted March 23, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Moldova - the Next Ukraine
Just like with Ukraine, Russia is using similar tactics to make sure the former Soviet Union state stays within its camp. “Moscow is now in the process of infiltrating the last pro-European republics in its sphere of influence,” writes Der Spiegel’s Christian Neef in an article titled “Russia Tries to Woo Back Moldova.”
According to Neef, Russia is now boycotting wine imports from Moldova, one of the country’s largest exports. Additionally, Russia is threatening to prevent the nearly 1 million Moldovans who work within Russia from sending money home to support their families.
Russia has also threatened to cut off its natural gas supply to Moldova—a move that would devastate the tiny agricultural nation. International Business Times editor Palash Ghosh says that what “Moldova lacks and desperately needs to keep its economy afloat—energy—now comes from Russia. In the event Moscow cuts off gas supplies, Moldova’s fragile economy could collapse.”
This has been the Russian strategy for years: bullying weaker and smaller nations into submission by threatening to cut off energy and destroy trade.
Russia has its supporters in Moldova though, just like in Ukraine. In Gagauzia, a region in southern Moldova, over 98 percent of voters said they would choose closer relations with the Russian Customs Union than the EU.
Last week, Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca also expressed his deep fear of possible Russian involvement in an autonomous region of Moldova known as Transnistria. This region is being termed Moldova’s Crimea. “Moldova has long faced its own secessionist threat in its autonomous Transnistria region, which broke away in 1992 after a brief war and also boasts a Russian military contingent—meaning the region is under de facto control of Moscow,” Ghosh continued. “With a breakaway territory within its borders, where 2,500 Russian soldiers guard arms stocks from the Soviet era,” Reuters reported, “Moldova is looking on nervously at the crisis in Crimea, roughly 360 kilometers (225 miles) to the east along the Black Sea coast.”
If Moldova doesn’t comply with Russia’s commands, could Vladimir Putin use Transnistria to get a foothold over the nation, just like he used Crimea in Ukraine? Prime Minister Leanca warns, “If we do not find a decision to the problem of Transnistria, then this sickness (of separatism) will become dangerous and contagious .…”
Some Europeans recognize that Putin’s power maneuver on Ukraine is no isolated incident. Back in 2005, the Russian president called the demise of the Soviet empire ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.’ Given the dozens of millions of Soviet citizens who were imprisoned, persecuted and murdered under that authoritarian system, most of us would say the opposite! Those hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian protesters certainly think the opposite. But not Mr. Putin. He not only mourns the USSR’s collapse—he is bent on rebuilding it and restoring the glory of imperial Russia!
Putin made these goals clear in 2008 by invading Georgia. He is doing everything he can to prevent Georgia, Ukraine and all other former Soviet countries from developing closer ties with Europe.
The Soviet Union collapsed just a little over two decades ago. Now it is making its resurgence—fast. Ukraine is coming under the Soviet fold, and now possibly Moldova. The governments of these former Soviet Nations are scared and looking west for support. But America’s weakness has allowed Russia’s rise.