Staunton, February 9 – Nezavisimaya gazeta journalist Svetlana Gamova suggests that the declaration of new Moldovan President Maia Sandu that Chisinau is now ready to use force to retake Transdniestria reflects her formation of a government which is “proceeding along the Ukrainian path” (ng.ru/cis/2021-02-09/1_8078_moldova.html).
But a far more likely explanation of Chisinau’s new position is the impact of Azerbaijan’s victory in Qarabagh and Baku’s ability demonstrated last fall to achieve by force what it wasn’t able to get by diplomatic means over more than 25 years, yet another way the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan is echoing across Eurasia.
Gamova says that President Sandu’s intentions have been signaled by the people she has proposed for key positions in the new government, a proposal that according to the Moscow journalist the parliament is unlikely to approve, forcing another round of new elections in Moldova.
Those Sandu has named have long favored changing “the existing format ofpeacekeeping operations” in Transdniestria, replacing Russian forces with “an international battalion consisting of soldiers of Romania, Poland and Ukraine, a step former Defense Minister Viorel Chibotaru says is necessary to counter Moscow’s “hybrid aggression” against Moldova.
The new Moldovan president has now proposed naming one of Chibotaru’s top officials, Anatolie Nosaty as defense minister. Nosaty has been head of the ministry’s planning staff, but from Moscow’ point of view, he is especially objectionable because he worked in the UN on peacekeeping operations after receiving a degree at the National Defense University in the US.
None of Sandu’s nominees are likely to be able to do much given that the parliament won’t approve them but they do signal how the wind is blowing in Chisinau. Gamova sees this as a decision to follow Ukraine’s course, but the impact of Azerbaijan’s victory almost certainly is greater.
At the very least, Baku’s achievement serves as a model of what is now possible for non-Russian governments no longer willing to put up forever with Russia’s use of the so-called “frozen” conflicts to retain Moscow’s influence in the former Soviet space.