European Disunion
Putin Smiles as Crisis Takes Moldova

Moldova, Ukraine’s western neighbor, is in an economic and political crisis, Reuters reports:

Former Moldovan prime minister Vlad Filat was detained in parliament on Thursday over the theft of $1 billion from the banking system, a crime that has led thousands to camp out in the capital in protest.

Television footage showed Filat being handcuffed by masked officials from Moldova’s anti-corruption bureau. Anti-government protesters had blocked the exits to the building for most of the day to prevent him leaving.

A spokesman for the anti-corruption office said Filat had been formally taken in for questioning. Under Moldovan law he can be held for 72 hours after which the court must make a decision on his status.

The loss of $1 billion, equivalent to about one sixth of this very poor country’s GDP, forced the government to intervene in the operation of three banks and has plunged the country into economic emergency.

The collapse of Moldova is good for President Putin, whose goal in the neighborhood is to undermine the German vision of a united, law-abiding Europe. To create disunity and instability, he relies less on his own strength (which is hardly sufficient) than on Western weakness and incoherence, as well as on the frailties of neighboring states. In Ukraine, for example, the Russian Army is not as much of an asset to Putin as is the corruption and dysfunction in Kiev coupled with the lack of clear Western determination to deal with Ukraine’s problems on anything like the scale required.

Germany and its allies don’t know how to fix the problems in places like Moldova, and they lack the energy and will to give it their all. That fecklessness gives Putin powerful weapons in a struggle that would otherwise be hopeless.

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