Moldova was part of the Soviet Union until 1991. Much of its infrastructure was not modernized since then, which in turn facilitated a heavy dependence on Russia on different aspects, especially regarding the import of gas and electric energy.
Even though Moldova always paid a relatively high price for importing energy, regardless of the orientation of the government (Moldova saw a alternation of pro-russian and pro-european governments in its 30 years of independence), none of the politicians has really tried to create conditions in order to alter the heavy dependence on Russia.
In July 2021, the early parliamentary elections resulted in a major victory for the pro-European forces. Even then, the political experts predicted that Russia might deliberately increase the price of gas, as a way to “punish” the Moldovan citizens from turning away from Russia. This expectation was also due to the fact that the contract with Gazprom was about to expire in the next months.
Moreover, a notable thing is also the dependency of Moldova on the electricity produced in the so-called “Transnistrian region”, a separatist region supported by Moscow.
The expectations of experts turned out legit, since the negotiations regarding a new gas contract took place with a lot of tension and burden (also considering the global energy crisis and the drastic increase in prices after the pandemic). At some point, Moscow threatened Moldova that they might stop the delivery of gas altogether, if the Moldovan counterpart did not pay the historical debt within a very short period of time.
Moreover, even if the government from Chisinau managed to negotiate a decent price for the electricity produced in the Transnistrian region, the separatists announced that they “have changed their mind” as a consequence of the war in Ukraine, and that they will continue delivering electricity only with a much higher price.
One might ask, why is Chisinau not negotiating with its other European neighbors regarding the delivery of gas and electricity, and why it relies so much on Moscow. The explanation is simple: up until this point, the delivery of gas and energy from other countries was practically impossible due to the lack of relevant infrastructure.
Since the gas prices already resulted in a drastic increase of ordinary citizens’ utility bills, the government feared that if they do not act quickly, the economical impact on people’s life will be considerable.
Taking this into account, Minister Spanu has declared it his utmost priority to as much as possible so that the infrastructure is modernized and Moldova begins much more flexible when it coms to choosing the energy suppliers.
On the 19th of January 2022, The Consolidated Unit for the Implementation and Monitoring of Energy Projects (UCIPE) and the consortium of three companies – Siemens Energy, ElectroMontaj and EnergoTech – have signed a contract on modernization of the Chisinau 330 kV power substation, Moldova’s Deputy Premier, Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development Andrei Spinu wrote in social networks, having called the event “a new important step in improvement of Moldova’s energy system infrastructure”.
Moreover, Moldova will receive a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for 23.5 million euros for the modernization of railways. On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development Andrei Spinu and EBRD Regional Director Matteo Patrone signed a loan agreement.
In the next period, more help is said to arrive from Moldova’s Western strategic partners, notably Romania, who declared on multiple occasions that they will do everything in their power to help Moldova gain energetic independence.