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To Russia With Love
Moldovan President Threatens To Scrap EU Agreement

Standing beside Putin in Moscow, Moldova’s newly elected president rebuked the EU and gave fresh proof of his intention to pivot toward Russia. FT:

Moldova could scrap its trade agreement with the EU in favor of a rival Russia-led economic bloc, the country’s president said in Moscow on Tuesday.

The announcement by Igor Dodon, who took office in December after beating his pro-European rival at the polls, marks a potential triumph for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in his efforts to resurrect what Moscow considers as its rightful sphere of influence in countries of the former Soviet Union.

“This agreement hasn’t given Moldova any benefits,” Mr Dodon said at a joint press conference with Mr Putin, referring to the EU deal signed in 2014. “We lost the Russian market and — strangely — our export volumes to the EU have fallen as well.”

He added that he hoped the Socialist party, which he led before becoming president, would win the 2018 parliamentary elections “and this agreement will be annulled”.

For some in Europe, the scene in Moscow may bring uneasy echoes of Ukraine, where Victor Yanukovych likewise made a fateful decision to scrap the EU Association Agreement in 2013. But the comparison is not entirely helpful: whereas that decision triggered a wave of pro-European protests that ultimately forced Yanukovych out of power, Dodon is unlikely to face comparable pressure.

True, Moldova is not entirely united behind a pro-Russian stance, and its prime minister has criticized Dodon for speaking out of turn against the EU. But Moldovans did freely elect Dodon this November, well aware of his explicit alignment with Russia. And the EU’s shine has worn off considerably since 2013, leaving Moscow as an appealing alternative partner for many in the post-Soviet space. In many ways, Dodon’s freely chosen decision to boost ties with Russia only reflects Putin’s improved standing since then. As Julia Ioffe notes by way of contrast with Ukraine, “Putin didn’t have to invade Moldova, a former Soviet republic, to bring it back into Moscow’s sphere of influence.”

Dodon’s rejection of the EU may be a bitter pill to swallow for Atlanticists already concerned about what a Trump presidency will do to enable Putin and divide Europe. But Trump is hardly to blame for countries like Moldova losing faith in the EU, or for Putin’s improved position. It would be difficult for an openly pro-Russian U.S. president to do more to strengthen Russia’s hand than President Obama accomplished out of a mix of poor judgment, irresolution, and lack of strategic vision—failures so amply echoed by the EU that countries like Moldova are now steering away from Brussels and toward Moscow.

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  • Anthony

    Well, let’s see: Putin didn’t have to invade Moldova, a former Soviet Republic, to bring it back into Moscow’s sphere of influence. Yes, but signs of intent (purpose) had been revealed in a post-Crimea annexation speech – Putin denounced the encroachment of Western actors, rules, and norms while reiterating his commitment to construct a new multipolar order:

  • Nevis07

    I’m wondering what that would mean for Transnistria, where Russia may look to create a secondary civil war on Ukraine’s eastern flank…

  • Fat_Man

    Credit the EU with this one, particularly Germany. Their failure to protect Ukraine made Russia the only sensible choice for Moldova. Obama is not guiltless. But, the US does not run the EU. They are grown ups and make their own mistakes.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Well, they are ‘sort-of’ grownups….

      • Disappeared4x

        Moldova might also be betting the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (and reliable natural gas from Russia)is better for them than the EU.

        Not that I believe life imitates fiction, but, I have 270 pages to go in Tom Clancy’s 2013 Jack Ryan thriller “Command Authority”. Russia is about to occupy Crimea.
        The evacuation of the CIA annex in Sevastopol by two V-22s is awesome.

        Nothing like ink on paper at a remaindered price, but this is the link:

        In other news, Melania in WaPo: Ralph Lauren crossed the barricades! :

        “During the spectacle-filled inauguration week, forget the Capitol Dome or the marble pillars of the White House. The sight many Washington-watchers want to see is future first lady Melania Trump.

        …We might see her dressed by a classic American designer — Ralph Lauren, who often dressed Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail — is reportedly creating Trump’s inaugural gown. The designer is “believed to be working on a gown and an Inauguration Day ensemble” for the high-profile day, and his team is said to be creating “custom pieces for other members of the Trump family,” per Women’s Wear Daily.”

        • f1b0nacc1

          To be absolutely honest, I find Ivanka more to my taste than Melania….though I suppose that as a fat, middle-aged, nerd of only moderate financial means, the whole thing is academic in the first place! (grin)….

          • Disappeared4x

            Yes, whatever, but, the point is breaking the NNT hysteria. Ralph Lauren ‘dressing’ Melania is a key breakthrough.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Indeed so, but that was never really in doubt. These fragile little egomaniacs were never going to turn down their moment in the spotlight….it is what they live for, after all…

            Regarding Ms Wintour, one of the few things that I can truly enjoy about Meryl Streep was her delicious evisceration of Wintour in “The Devil Wears Prada”, it really is worth watching…. The Cerulean rant is especially well done!

          • Disappeared4x

            NNT is losing steam, but, NNT still focused on delegitimizing POETUS, and Ivanka. The power of THIS culture war is dangerous because it is built on the false stereotype of DJT as too deplorable, too irredeemable.

            As I originally predicted when Sophie Theallet started the FLOTUS designer war (a post at PJM), What Will Ralph Lauren Do DID matter.

            Behind the scenes, TeamTrump played Hearst v CondeNast, bringing in LVMH for a meet at TT – LVMH possibly Vogue’s biggest advertiser – three days after TT meet with CondeNast….good practice for facing Putin!

            Yes, love “The Devil Wears Prada”. The Clackers are now moving to Washington.

            Next? Slovenian cuisine is better than Italian!

            Reality beckons. See you elsewhere!

          • f1b0nacc1

            My guess is that as the days go by, and the roof does not cave in, the attempts to demonize Trump will die on the vine. Oh, they will go through the motions, but this will be more preaching to the converted and virtue signalling than anything else. If Trump delivers, he will be fine…if not, well that is an entirely different matter. So far (and I say as I have before were are VERY early in the game), so good….

            As I am not a big fan of Italian cuisine, the fact that I agree with you about Slovenian cuisine being superior probably doesn’t count for much. Still, their women are very beautiful…

          • Disappeared4x

            “Feathers in the Wind” (non-sectarian version of how false gossip spreads like feathers in the wind)

            “The story of the feathers of the wind is a folk tale I heard long ago.

            One day a woman was spreading gossip about another villager, later on she finds out that this gossip wasn’t true.

            She was upset that she had spread false information and wanted to right her wrongs, so she traveled to the wise man of the mountains.

            The wise man of the mountains told her that she must pluck out all the feathers, toss the feathers onto the road and wait until the next day to collect all the feathers.

            She did not question the wise man and so did exactly what he told her.

            The next day she returned to the wise man with only three feathers in her hand. The wise man asked her what had happened to all the other feathers.

            She answered, a little upset that she could not find them, they were all gone, lost.

            She asked, what did this mean, the wise man responded that gossip was just like the feathers, once they were tossed out into the road, the wind would pick them up and spread them wide and far.

            And that while you’d be able to pick up a few pieces here and there, for the most part, the feathers were lost to the wind and the world.”


          • f1b0nacc1

            I always preferred the shorter aphorism…”A lie will be halfway around the world, before the truth gets out of bed”

            In either case, the best way to fight a lie is with the truth…or in this case, with substantive positives. If Trump delivers the goods, it will not matter much what lies are told.. If not, well, it won’t matter either…

          • Disappeared4x

            Hey! Coincidences: Jon Voight today began his intro with: “‘We have all been witness to a very gruelling year and a half for the president-elect. ‘We have been witness to a barrage of propaganda that left us all breathless with anticipation, not knowing if God could reverse all the negative lies against Mr Trump whose only desire was to make America great again. …”

            As you know, I became fashion detective today.


            Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic of The New York Times, considers questions about Melania Trump’s Inaugural Dress.

            “… At the moment, the buzz is Ralph Lauren and Karl Lagerfeld, the designer of Chanel, both fashion-world tentpole names. If she wanted to project a sense of being at the heart of the global fashion establishment, with their big gold seal of approval, especially after all the postelection brouhaha with designers announcing they would refuse to dress her, this would do that pretty handily. …”

            Good start, and very interesting about the symbolism of FLOTUS fashion.

            Designer details for tonight’s dinner?

            Short version: FLOETUS Melania wore bespoke Reem Acra, who ‘dresses’ Angelina Jolie and Madonna.
            I would post the photo of the gold Seem Acra gown, but TAI might convulse.

            Reem Acra was born in Beirut. Her father Aftim was born in Jerusalem, Palestine (according to in 1922. Greek Orthodox. Google says he was born in Jerusalem, Israel.

            Melania’s day dress is really interesting: “For her first Inaugural weekend appearance Thursday afternoon, Melania dressed with respect in joining the president-elect for a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

            Wearing a (Colombian-Venezuelan) Norisol Ferrari military-inspired knee-length coat and coordinating sheath dress, the incoming First Lady’s ensemble was meant to pay homage to American military service members. The occasion was particularly meaningful for the New York City designer whose biological father is a wounded
            veteran who sustained lifelong disabilities in the line of service.

            In an interview Thursday, Ferrari’s said her first thought Thursday morning was, “God, I hope we can be a less angry nation.”

            Addressing the issue of designers who have publicly said they would refuse to dress Trump, Ferrari said, “I am absolutely opposed to discrimination in any way. I wanted to give her her own voice. Empowering women is all that matters to me. I do not discriminate whether for race, religion, color of skin, sexuality, political affiliation – what have you. No, I do not believe in it in any form.”

            Ferrari continued, “I really saw a person who is being misunderstood who is being scrutinized. She’s a woman and a mother and I am pro-woman. That at the end of the day is very important to me – equality for women and for all human beings. If that’s what I really believe, I had to do it.”

            Ferrari declined to say how she voted in last year’s presidential election. “I don’t believe that my political affiliation has any relevance in this appointment. The only thing I can say is that my biological family paid a very heavy price for this nation and that’s why I did this.” she said.

            Ferrari was connected with Trump through her senior advisor Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, …” [formerly Vogue party planner]

            The rest of the story is from WWD, might be same writer who covered the original fashion boycott

          • Disappeared4x
          • Jim__L

            There will be bitter enders in the Demonize Trump crowd. Remember Bush Derangement Syndrome?

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