Reports from Ukraine’s security services that known fighting elements from Moldova’s breakaway Transdniester region have been active in Eastern Ukraine are a sign of several, related, ominous developments.
Expect Gagauzia to increasingly agitate for independence, and expect Moscow to back that play as it backs Transnistria now.
The impetus on Brussels now is to avoid another blunder. Ukraine is not lost to the European Union, but Armenia to all practical purposes is, a victim of Russian bullying and its own sins come home to roost.
The Eastern Partnership failed because it was not an Eastern Partnership, it was an Eastern Condescension.
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.
Transnistria is taking on a significance totally disproportionate to its size. It is as if Russia’s regional anxieties are being played out on the smallest stage of all.
As with Ukraine, Putin is testing Europe’s resolve to see its expansion plans, and the dreams on which it was made, stand.
Moldova’s expanded economic ties with the EU, in particular, offer the prospect of increased trade and investment, and thus growth.
Leanca inherits a somewhat diminished hand than Filat had in dealing with Moscow and Tiraspol, and badly needs to assure a wary Europe that Moldova’s political strife is behind it.
President Timofti’s forceful rejection of just such an effort last year shows that he has the political instincts and courage to stand up to Russia. He must now show that he can manage a more subtle form of coercion – diplomatic pressure to make a deal.