Can Moldova resist Russia’s embrace?

In an article on The Spectator, Christopher Booth writes: “As they mark their independence this weekend, Moldovans say our security is bound up with theirs”.

He also writes that “Moldova hosts the highest per capita number of displaced Ukrainians that people here would naturally, and truthfully, like to be thought of. Moldova has taken on a colossal burden that would otherwise fall upon countries further west.

While GDP figures are left unspoken, it remains true that a hobbled economy gives Moldova little room for false steps in a straitened neighbourhood. If across Europe we are concerned at the prospect of a chilly winter, think of this country’s 100 per cent dependence on Russian gas, and an inflation rate approaching 35 per cent. The vulnerability to Kremlin caprice is abject.

Moscow certainly has a several trump cards in its hand, and has now begun to play them. Moldova’s Transnistria region is in essence a Russian proxy. A ‘peacekeeping’ garrison of Russian troops has been deployed there since a short civil war in 1991 led to the formation of an unrecognised breakaway statelet. It is characterised by a monopoly retailer, well-organised crime, alongside Soviet emblems and regalia, all preserved in geopolitical aspic. This suits Russia well – it is the prototypical ‘frozen conflict’, to be warmed over at will, should a former possession become irritatingly uppity.”

But the Kremlin is also applying economic thumbscrews in ways it has honed before, in Georgia and Ukraine: through import embargoes.


In this case, Moldovan fruit. Iurie Fala heads the national fruit trade association: ‘The crises have all come at the same time this year – a long drought, which means watering crops is difficult, and making for a lower yield; higher prices for energy and fertiliser; and disruption to logistics.’ Before the war, Moldova exported almost all of its cherries, grapes, apples and plums north to Russia. ‘Now we’ve got a Russian import ban – this is serious, and some small farmers won’t be able to survive,’ he says at an apple orchard in the north of the country. ‘Producers will be nostalgic for the old Russian markets – they’ll expect a response from the government.’

More about Moldova’s stance in terms of security can be read in the original article.

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