Continuing the pressure on the Eastern Partnership nations who will meet with the European Union in Vilnius this month to discuss trade and closer ties, Russia has unsubtly let Moldova know that any closer moves to Brussels will yield a very cold winter for Moldova, and likely a 2014 without its breakaway Transnistria.
The threats against Moldova began in September with a ban on its famous wine (like many of the former Soviet states including Georgia, Estonia, and Azerbaijan, Moldova produces excellent vintages). They continued last month with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s extremely subtle warning: “Energy supplies are important in the run-up to winter. I hope you won’t freeze.” Although Rogozin may have been wishing warm holiday tidings, he was more likely reminding Moldova that its natural gas supply comes bearing Gazprom’s seal, and Gazprom is nothing if not a tool of Moscow.
Of late, Rogozin and others have openly threatened to help Transnistria make its final escape from Moldova (Russia has already opened a consulate there over Moldovan protests and is handing out Russia passports, a past-as-prologue replay of its actions in Georgia six years ago). Russia’s customs inspectors have taken to intermittently shutting down Moldovan trade on an as-needed basis.
In short, Moscow is telling Moldova, as it told Ukraine, that closeness to the imperial master brings joy, and Westernization brings pain.
Chișinău, like Kyiv, has so far told Moscow to pound sand, and is striving hard for an Association Agreement with the EU. Both countries, in fact, are making a hard bid for Europe as a sort of race against Russian adventurism and economic collapse.
They may yet make it, but not if Russia has a say in the matter.
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