30 June 2018. PenzaNews. Moldovan President Igor Dodon criticized the UN draft resolution calling for withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria, stressing that the document is aimed at worsening the Moldovan-Russian relations.
“The Government of Moldova, controlled by the Democratic Party, committed another anti-Russian demarche, initiating yesterday’s vote at the UN. The ruling coalition exploits international platforms to reinforce its political standing ahead of the parliamentary elections, which will be held in a couple of months. Such PR stunt of the Democratic Party won’t have any effect in reality,” the politician said in a Facebook post on Saturday, June 23.
In his opinion, such a PR action of the Democratic Party will not have any practical significance.
“The Republic of Moldova should strengthen its statehood, pursue a balanced foreign policy, and seek international recognition of its neutrality. The key to a strong Moldovan state should be the solution of the Transnistrian problem and the reintegration of the country. Complete the peacekeeping operation that takes place on the territory of our country in accordance with the agreements of 1992 and is one of the most successful will be possible only after both banks of the Dniester come to a comprehensive agreement on the full settlement of the conflict,” the president added.
However, many observers note that the power of the Moldova president is extremely limited, and the main authority is concentrated in the hands of the chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova, oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, who positions himself as a pro-Western politician and actively uses the capabilities of the American lobby.
Earlier, Moldovans actively discussed an article by John Schindler, a security expert, former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer, named “Why Did the US Ambassador to Germany Defend a Human Trafficker?” published on the Observer website and devoted to the subject of close ties between the American ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and Vladimir Plahotniuc.
Moreover, the leader of the Moldovan Democratic Party is mentioned in the article not as “just a corrupt oligarch who stands plausibly accused of robbing his impoverished country blind” but as “a human trafficker, in fact the leading one in Moldova.”
Commenting on this information around Moldova’s ruling forces, Anatoly Dirun, Scientific Leader, Tiraspol School of Political Studies, shared the view that Vladimir Plahotniuc uses lobbying organizations in Washington to promote the “party agenda.”
“It’s not a secret. The fact that the US ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell collaborated in this format with the Moldovan political force, as well as his recent statements, testify that such ties continue to work,” the expert told PenzaNews.
At the same time, in his opinion, the Moldovan political forces started their activity ahead of the forthcoming autumn elections to the country’s parliament.
“All the foreign policy maneuvers of the ruling coalition are devoted to the solution of the problems connected with the formation of the Western support for the efforts of the Democratic Party in the pre-election period, and possible allocation of the financial assistance to stabilize the macroeconomic situation,” the analyst said.
At the same time, the draft resolution on Transnistria will not be moved forward in the foreseeable future, he said.
“In order to talk about the withdrawal of peacekeepers from Transnistria, they need at least Tiraspol’s consent to this initiative. The resuscitation of this topic, which has been already raised this year within the UN, but then has not been put to a vote, is more reminiscent of the Chisinau PR campaign aimed at implementing a pre-election scenario: how Moldova is trying to resist ‘aggressive Russia.’ It is unlikely that this will strengthen the position of the Democratic Party,” Anatoly Dirun explained.
Hans-Georg Heinrich from the University of Vienna also expressed confidence that Russia will retain its presence in Transnistria.
“The initiative will remain on paper as long as the Russian government does not agree. The present government in Moldova tries to style itself as pro-Western. All this is very notional,” the analyst stressed.
“Moldova’s major problem is its lack of resources, its enduring poverty, which generates all kinds of illegal and murky business activities such as trafficking. Politically, its various governments have tried to maneuver between Moscow and Brussels in order to receive support from both sides,” Hans-Georg Heinrich explained.
Commenting on the relations of the American diplomat with the Moldovan oligarch, the expert paid attention to the stained image of Richard Grenell himself.
“Richard Grenell has ruined his reputation as an ambassador from the very beginning. This is, however, in keeping with the attitude of the present US administration to disregard the traditional rules of conduct. Since Moldova is a kind of Plahotniucstan, he is not the only one who has tried to establish a relationship with him. As far as I know, Trump is not planning to build Trump towers or golf courses in Moldova,” the expert from the University of Vienna said.
Meanwhile, the public official of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, political scientist Andrey Safonov stressed that statements about the American politician’s support for the Moldovan oligarch may not coincide with the real state of affairs.
“Ambassador Grenell is a political technologist, not a career diplomat. His task, as he himself understands it, is the assertion of the prevailing US influence wherever possible. [...] But, knowing the specifics of American foreign policy methods, one cannot guarantee that some American group is not preparing for the overthrow of both the socialist president Igor Dodon and the leader of the Democratic Party, Vladimir Plahotniuc,” the expert said.
“Plahotniuc is a man with his own money and, hence, his own interests, as well as huge independence in making key decisions. Americans need absolutely characterless people without striking personal characteristics, without big money and without independent social and political baggage: those, who having received any order, even the most absurd and bloodthirsty, including unleashing a conflict on the Dniester, would unquestionably run to execute it,” Andrey Safonov added.
Meanwhile, according to him, recently there appeared a third force in the political arena of Moldova, represented by the right who do not conceal their pro-Romanian orientation.
“There are a lot of them among the supporters of the elected mayor of Chisinau [Chairman of the Dignity and Truth (DA) Platform] Andrei Nastase, whose victory in the June 2 elections was later annulled by the court of two instances. Now they are trying to organize protest demonstrations, but only several hundred people take part in them. This is not enough to influence important decisions. Let's see how the events will develop further, but this is not just a third force, but the power of a potential ‘Maidan.’ Some analysts do not rule out that in case of success of pro-Russian forces in the parliamentary elections, pro-Romanians can try to arrange the ‘Maidan’ and remove from the political arena all those who do not support Moldova’s entry into the sphere of total control of Washington, Brussels and Bucharest,” the analyst explained.
Analyzing the draft resolution on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria, he called it a provocation that “was born in Washington, and developed in Romania.”
“Its formal authors in Chisinau say that now they want the withdrawal of the remnants of the 14th Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF), rather than the Russian peacekeepers. This is fake. The demand for withdrawal of both OGRN and Russian peacekeepers go hand in hand from the first half of the 1990s. Chisinau and the West need it because without Russian soldiers Transnistria would remain defenseless. Then Transnistria could be delivered an ultimatum to the actual surrender, and in case of refusal to surrender they could attack it not only with Moldovan troops, but also the troops of Romania and, possibly, the West, including NATO,” Andrey Safonov said.
“In the context of the geopolitical confrontation that the West has imposed on Russia with the aim of dismembering it into a series of ‘democratic’ pseudo-states, the significance of Transnistria is only growing. We do not even need to think about possible mechanisms for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria. This simply must not be done. Never,” the analyst stressed.
In turn, Alla Rosca, Associate Researcher at Edgewater Research LLC, New Orleans, US, expressed diametrically opposite opinion.
“The adopted UN Resolution of withdrawal of Russian troops from the Republic of Moldova is not a new subject. […] This major diplomatic effort of Moldova, co-sponsored by Ukraine and Romania, represents a valid and sound legal basis for the constant demand of the Republic of Moldova of the Russian troops from its territory. It is a very important document for the Republic of Moldova, because it reaffirms the withdrawal of Russian troops at the most prestigious and largest international forum, the UN General Assembly,” the expert said and added that Russia will be exposed to a serious pressure on the existence of such a document.
Commenting on the political situation in the country on the eve of the parliamentary elections, she expressed confidence that the ruling forces are intensifying the discussion about the foreign policy of Moldova.
“The political discourse of pro-Russian and pro-European political forces regarding the future geopolitical orientation of the country is univocal – or in coalition with Russia or with European Union. This manipulation technique, called ‘the lesser of two evils’ when the population should choose one which is least evil, is well known technique from the political arsenal in special in the eve of the elections in the country. The pro-Russian Party of Socialists and the President Igor Dodon on one hand, and the Democratic Party and its leader Vladimir Plahotniuc on other hand, are playing in tandem to gain political dividends and to assure the higher scores for their parties in the elections,” Alla Rosca said.
At the same time, in her opinion, there are a lot of unresolved internal political issues in the country.
“The real problems in Moldova are the rampart corruption, political uncertainty and weak administrative capacity, vested bureaucratic interests and weak banking system. Moldova remains vulnerable to the energy import and dependence from Russia and the political and economic pressure from Russia and the necessity to diversify the economic relations. The unresolved separatism in Moldova’s Transnistria region is another problem, the solution to which should be suggested by the political opponents during the upcoming elections in Moldova,” the analyst said.
She also added that the ties between the American ambassador and the Moldovan oligarch confirm that money were involved.
“The news that the new US Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell, has allegedly provided some services for the most influential player in Moldova Vladimir Plahotniuc, which is under the Interpol investigation for human trafficking, having connections, also allegedly, with Russian organized crime, expose that the money were involved. If the Ambassador Grenell went to defend Plahotniuc as a business deal, the American and Moldovan public deserve to know the details,” Alla Rosca explained.
Meanwhile, according to Vincent Henry, expert of Paris-Est University and Babes-Bolyai University in Romania, the Moldovan government, officially aspiring to European integration, can hardly expect to achieve this goal.
“The government does not stop angering its European partners: the investigation into the theft of the 1 billion Euro is stalling, the reform of the justice system is a farce. The European institutions have violently criticised the reform of the electoral law or, most recently, the refusal to validate the election of the opponent Andrei Nastase to the mayor of Chisinau. Under these conditions, the hope of possible European integration is nothing more than empty rhetoric. The Chisinau government continues to present itself as an outpost threatened by Russian ambitions, but this discourse no longer finds much echo in European capitals,” the analyst said.
Most observers agree that this confrontation is mimicked both by Plahotniuc and his government and by the pro-Russian president Dodon, his “opponent,” he said.
“By locking the electorate into a primary confrontation, this tandem tries to prevent the development of any real opposition,” Vincent Henry stressed.
In a European Union in the midst of an existential crisis, there is virtually no interest anymore in the Eastern Partnership today and still less for a new enlargement even in a distant future, he said.
“We have therefore been witnessing for several years an intense lobbying effort of the Moldovan government with the United States. Plahotniuc has published several articles in the American press in the last two years in which they praise the reforms carried out and present Moldova as a rampart of democracy threatened by Russia,” the expert noted.
In his opinion, the Moldovan government needs money and investments; therefore it “seeks to attract investors from all over the world, particularly Americans, at any price.”
“One of the most striking examples has caused considerable controversy around environmental risks; In December 2016, Frontera Resources International obtains the right to prospect for and explore for gas or oil on an area equivalent to 40% of the national territory for 10 years. If the American company’s research is successful, it will be able to exploit the hydrocarbons discovered for 40 years,” Vincent Henry said.
He also added that Vladimir Plahotniuc, like many oligarchs, is increasingly approaching the United States, “which is considered to be less concerned with the rule of law than Brussels.”
“It is not easy to anticipate the current US foreign policy but it seems quite clear that one of these objectives is a weakening of the European Union. The American administration is now playing the new Europe against the founding countries of the Union, in particular Germany. […] The disputed personality of the new American ambassador in Berlin, described as Plahotniuc’s support, seems a new proof of US support for the illiberal tendencies of Central and Eastern Europe. It is to this trend that the Moldovan government is now seeking to tie itself,” the analyst concluded.