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Moldova Looks to Europe as Russian Influence Declines Throughout Region


Add Moldova to the list of countries shunning Russian attempts to establish a customs union to rival Europe’s. And Moscow, appearing increasingly weak in its near-abroad, is furious.

Larger and more prosperous countries like Ukraine and Belarus are well on their way to choosing Europe over Russia, despite relentless Russian strong-arming. Armenia looked set to join them last month before its President abruptly gave in to Russian pressure and joined the Moscow-sponsored Eurasian Customs Union over the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.

Now it’s Moldova’s turn to choose. After decades of dependence on Russia and the Soviet Union before it, the tiny republic, by far the poorest on the continent, seems to be heading Europe’s way. Its move westward has provoked the usual warnings and threats from Russian leaders. “We hope that you will not freeze,” Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister said, suggesting Moscow would shut down the pipelines that send Russian gas to the energy-starved country. Not long after that, Russian officials, citing vague health concerns, stopped imports of Moldovan wine, which make up a huge percentage of the country’s exports. There have also been warnings that the tens of thousands of Moldovans working in Russia would be expelled.

“Rather than intimidating leaders of the country’s fragile coalition government, however, Russia’s tactics have only cemented their resolve to complete the political and free trade agreements with the European Union,” the New York Times reported today. “The signing of these agreements,” said the Moldovan president, “is the only chance that Moldova has in order to develop itself as a European country and in the European spirit.”

Within Moldova, not everyone is pleased about joining the EU. The Communist Party is strong there and is already agitating to bring down the pro-Europe ruling coalition. But many of the country’s businesspeople prefer Europe, a market of 500 million people, to Russia, where politics frequently get in the way of stable business and government. “We want to be treated by our bigger partners, if not equally, at least with respect,” a deputy foreign minister told the Times.

Though Moldova is a tiny country and only marginally important to Eurasian politics, its decision to pursue deeper integration with Europe is another sign of Russia’s declining influence in its near-abroad.

[Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti photo courtesy of Iordache.dragos]

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Once again the Obama administration shows its incompetence. We had missile defense systems ready to go into eastern Europe which would have lead to close military ties to the region, which could have been built on with economic and defense treaties. Instead we have Russian bullying most of the countries in the region, and mud on America’s reputation.

    • Philippe David

      This has nothing to do with the article. The missile defense system you mention was a bad idea from the start. It doesn’t work, look up the success rate of the GMD system. And it would have been expensive and immobile. The Aegis system that is going in now is much better. It will be cheaper, moveable and most importantly it works.

      • f1b0nacc1

        The failure rate of the systems being tested (they are still in development, NOT mature systems) reflects for the most part issues with the testing environment, not the systems themselves. Even if we were to take this critique at face value, a big part of the difficulty with existing BMD systems is their problem with dealing with longer ranged missiles. The longer the range, the faster the warhead is moving at intercept time, which means it is much, much harder to it. The THAAD systems under development are longer ranged, and typically designed for mid-course interception, thus less vulnerable to decoys and spoofing and less likely to encounter high-speed warheads.
        Given the ranges involved, there is nothing particularly useful about mobile BMD systems vs immobile ones. The biggest piece of the system is not the missile or the launcher, but the radar systems (acquisition and tracking are both huge and complex) as well as the C3I components, which are necessarily static. The Aegis system (Aegis is only the radar component, the Standard Missile – SM-2/3/4 to be precise is the part that does the actual killing) is designed for terminal intercept (thus far more vulnerable to decoys, spoofing, and high speed warheads), and limited in range, leaving it as only one step up from point-defense. As for it ‘working’, I suggest you take a long look at your numbers…Aegis in Iraq had a mixed record at best against SCUDs, a fairly primitive technology far surpassed by almost every single potential user in the European theatre.
        Next time, try commenting on something you know about.

        • Philippe David

          I don’t think blaming the “testing environment” is a fair
          excuse for the program’s numerous failures. The GMD program was rushed
          to completion and has not been able to recover ever since.

          you even taken a look at the success rate of the Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD)
          intercept tests? It’s abysmal, most the test have ended in failure or been aborted, the whole program has been a complete mess. I highly
          doubt that it will ever reach maturity.

          SM-3 BMD program on the other hand has been extremely

          with a 88% Intercept rate, and has continued to progress on schedule with
          more and greater capability being added every year.

          being “a mobile system,” I don’t mean being able to move by

          or car. I was saying the planed Aegis Ashore sites can be move out of a

          in about 3-6 months. The GMD on the other hand requires permanent

          me quote Defense Industry Daily on this point, “The bottom line is more

          in semi-mobile locations. SM-3 missiles cost about 80% less than

          GBI missiles, and the ground-based infrastructure of adapted Mk.41

          launchers and mobile radars is also less expensive than GMD’s full

          complex and fixed radar.”

          disagree with you on the point that Aegis right now is only used for
          terminal intercepts. Aegis can perform theater based defense nad can intercepet
          Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles. Indeed the next evolutions of SM-3 will
          be even more capable than what are available now.

          don’t exactly know what you are talking about with the “Aegis in Iraq”
          comment. I don’t think Aegis vessels were used in the in the Persian
          Gulf War… What, I think, you are thinking of is the MIM-104 Patriot.
          PAC-2 version….

          The Patriot is a completely different system then Aegis. You
          should look them both up.

          New MIM-104F (PAC-3) is much better at missile defense than the
          PAC-2 and has been quite thoroughly tested. I don’t know the exact
          numbers for intercepts vs. misses but I believe it is very good. Lockheed
          Martin Conducts Successful PAC-3 Missile Flight Test this August.

          The PAC-3 is a dedicated missile defense weapon and was designed
          from the ground up for this purpose. The PAC-2 used in 1991 where just anti-aircraft
          weapons modified to try and shoot down missiles. It didn’t work very effectively…

          Also, there is no Standard Missile 4, it got canceled like 10 years ago.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Lets start from the beginning…
            1) Testing is SUPPOSED to find flaws…in this particular case however, most of the failed tests have been flaws in the testing system themself, not the system being tested. In simple terms, we are seeing failures in telemetry, computer monitoring processes, etc, not in the missiles, radars, or C3I… To suggest that this represents anything close to an indictment of the system itself reveals a complete lack of understanding of what is being done.
            2) The SM-3 system is very short-ranged compared to the GMD, and extremely limited in terms of intercept envelopes. It may indeed be more effective (real-world records?…didn’t think so), but it is used in a far less challenging environment. My MINI is more reliable than a Formula 1 racer, but I suspect when used in a Formula 1 race, it would be less suitable.
            3) The SM-2 has a longer range, but its ability to intercept anything short of an old SCUD is negligible. Even the USN isn’t pretending otherwise, which is why they are pushing upgrades for the SM-2 so hard right now.
            3) Aegis is a radar system, and the “Aegis in Iraq” I was referring to was when Aegis was used as a ‘feed-in’ to the theatre targeting and acquisition system for the region. As for the Patriot, the less said the better….
            4) Lockheed says everything is OK with SM-2/SM-3? Well, OK, lets go with that…it isn’t as if Lockheed has a bad reputation for faking test data or any sort of pecuniary interest in pushing their alternatives or anything….
            5) SM-4 are no longer being built, but still in use, particularly as developmental systems. Nice weapons actually, but not what we want (unless we decide to reopen the Anti-Satellite business again)
            6) Permanent infrastructure is a trivial cost in this case, and represents a very small part of overall system complexity. The real issue is targeting and acquisition, which the Aegis system simply cannot do on a theatre-wide basis for anti-missile operations. GMD requires a substantially more sophisticated radar as it detects launches at a greater range. X-band systems cannot be placed in an inflatable dome.
            7) If you want to make the argument that a simpler, less effective system is more desirable, you MIGHT have a case (you would be wrong, but it is at least a defensible position)…you are pretending that these systems are interchangable, when they are not. If I want to defend a ship against a relatively short to medium-range missile, Aegis/Standard is fine, but nobody other than LockMart salesmen are going to tell you that it is a theatre level replacement…

          • Philippe David

            1) I disagree with you this point. The GMD

            national missile defense system is considered operation and is spoken of as
            active by the government/military. Let’s take a look at the last three failures: they look, in my opinion, like failures in the missiles and radars
            and not of the telemetry and computer monitoring processes that you claim is the cause. The telemetry problems were solved back in 2008 if I remember correctly. I’ll quote
   Table of Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) intercept tests:





            test of new CE-II kill vehicle. Kill vehicle failed to intercept because a “lockwire was not inserted during the EKV manufacturing process” causing
            a thruster failure. SBX radar also experienced a “significant failure.”





            frequency vibrations from kill vehicle thrusters caused a failure in a guidance
            component. Failed component was not part of original CE-I kill vehicle.



            CE-I GBI Intercept test
            of CE-I GBI incorporating “24 or 25” improvements. The final
            stage of the booster failed to separate.”

            2) You are wrong on these points. I suggest you take a look at the CBO assessment
            for Options for Deploying Missile
            Defenses in Europe. A land based SM-3 Block IIA would provide coverage for all of Europe. I don’t know why you are going on about the “real-world” records issue. How does this aid your argument? The GMD has not been tested in what I imagine you define as a “real-world” environment either.

            Your Mini Cooper would win against the F1 car if the F1 car couldn’t make
            it to the finish line. The GMD obviously has some very major
            quality control issues.

            The SM-3 is a midcourse interceptor, with intercepts taking place outside
            atmosphere. It is not “extremely limited in terms of intercept envelopes” as you



            3) I agree with your point here.
            Though the new SM-6 seems to be the upgrade of the current SM-2 Block IV missile that you are talking about. I never defended the
            effectiveness of the SM-2 in missile defense.

            3) It would have been helpful if you had been a little more specific when you made
            your point before.
            Could you provide me with some more information on this, you seem to imply
            that the Aegis vessels were not very effective. It would be interesting to see.

            4) Aegis has had 28 successful intercepts in a verity of situations.
            You should take a look at this table it has some very good details on
            these tests.


            5) I have not heard this before but I’ll trust you on it. It was my understanding that
            SM-4 was a land attack variant of the SM-2.
            I am also sure that you
            are aware that the SM-3 has shot down a satellite. A SM-3 block IIA could potentially reach any satellite in LEO.

            6) A dozen billion dollars is not trivial. The cost of the GMD with its large X-band radar would have
            been substantial compared to what is currently being built now. Nonetheless,
            I agree with you on the issues of “targeting and acquisition” that the Aegis system going in faces. The radar, An AN/SPY-1 variant, I don’t know which version will be used, does not
            have the range the planned GMD radar probably would have had. However, other
            more “sophisticated radar systems” can be linked to the Aegis facility,
            such as additional tracking radars like the x-band radar inTurkey.
            It is not a standalone system.

            7) I think you are wrong to think that a GMD system in Europe could ever achieve
            full operation considering that the current GMD system employed here in
            the U.S. is not even operational,
            in any meaningful way at least, due to funding constraints and a lack of radars to identify and discriminate targets. At the moment, there is only a single long range radar, the SBX, that can perform any discrimination and it has been mothballed due to its high operating costs. There were supposed to be
            eight even larger x-band radars. It was a bad idea from the start
            to forward deploy a
            GMD system in Europe.

            If THAAD is considered a theatre-level system, than why is the SM-3/Aegis not? The
            SM-3 is not a terminal
            interceptor, it is a mid-course interceptor designed to intercept ballistic missiles
            outside of the atmosphere. The SM-2/SM-6 is the terminal phase interceptor.

            You are mixing up the two when you suggest that the SM-3 is so “extremely limited,”
            the SM-3 is a theatre-class missile.

  • EnsoUS

    “Poland, Lithuania and Belarus are well on their way to choosing Europe over Russia”

    Regarding Poland and Lithuania – members of EU! – it is like saying in 1860 that Texas is “on the way to choosing US over Mexico”. On the other hand, Bielorus is a semi-communist dictatorship sitting strongly in the Russian orbit. The Eastern Partnership (a EU program put together by Poland and Sweden) is not a EU expansion attempt. Therefore, Moldova is not “joining the EU” (regardless of the local Communist Party opinion).

  • m1shu

    I wonder if Moldova has any opportunity to frac some natural gas for themselves.

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