Tiny Moldova, a former republic in the Soviet Union, was one of the three countries that signed far-reaching partnership agreements with the European Union in June, alongside Georgia and Ukraine. Now with Ukraine bending to Russian pressure and having agreed to postpone the implementation of the economic portions of the deal until 2016, Vladimir Putin wants at least the same from Moldova. The BBC reports:
At the Minsk summit on Friday Mr Putin referred to that agreement with the EU and asked: “Where was Moldova? Why couldn’t we build a relationship like that with Moldova?“We wanted to, and asked many times for it. Unfortunately, we haven’t heard a clear answer from our Moldovan friends…“We have to resolve the existing differences and find compromise solutions,” he said, adding that such compromises would help “all the member states of the CIS free trade zone” – that is, the ex-Soviet states with which Russia has preferential trade links.
Those are classic gangster euphemisms coming out of Don Putin’s mouth. And Russia’s capo should be feeling confident: he has triumphed in Ukraine, and is now pushing his advantage in yet another area. In Moldova, Russia has the all-important lever of a frozen conflict that could conceivably be thawed should the need arise. And anyone with eyes can see that in Moldova (as in Ukraine), the West has promised much but has no intention of doing anything if Russia puts its foot down.The thing to watch for is how Putin’s Moldovan plan is coordinated with facts on the ground in Ukraine. Is a strategy for establishing a land-bridge to Transnistria still being discussed in Moscow? After everything that has transpired, it would be naive to discount the possibility.