With 14 weeks past the onset of clashes in Ukraine, there is no clear picture of this thorny crisis in sight, and it can be said the basic question about the three facets is why Moldova is in anxiety? Europe having differences? And Russia is anticipating what? These days, the Ukrainians are utilizing soft power more than ever and talk of the probability of the spread of the war’s geography, possible coup in Moscow, and Russia’s military’s possibility of using unconventional weapons. Along those lines, the Ukrainian military sources claim that the Russians intend to control the Transnistria region, and more probably the entirety of the Moldovan territory. To these sources, this plan is part of the new strategy aimed at invading Odessa from the west and the southern Russian-controlled part of Ukraine, and finally blocking Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea, through which transfer of troops and military equipment from the Crimean peninsula can be operationalized to sandwich and pressure the Ukrainian forces and expand the Russian dominance over the Black Sea.
At least recent attacks on the bridges in Odessa props up this idea that the Russians seek to cut off the Odessa port from the remainder of the Ukrainian territory to pave the way for invasion. Meanwhile, the goal of this step can be destabilizing the Moldovan Republic and taking it under control, or overthrowing Maia Sandu’s government and setting up a government that is apparently opposed to the west and Russia. However, the possible entrance of Russian troops into Moldova will make the conditions more extremely complicated, because Romanians will not easily put up with it. The Romanian people are of the same race and language as the Moldovans, and this country was one of the three Romanian states after the First World War until the Second World War.
This republic is the most vulnerable country of the region, having an army comprised of 3000 weak and untrained soldiers, who cannot survive any invasion. For now, the Republic of Moldova has declared military neutrality, but since the outbreak of war, has always been supported by the west and America. Although both Romanians and the west have declared their support for Chișinău, in the west of the Green Continent there is tangible fear of possible spread of hostilities in Ukraine into neighboring countries and possible involuntary intervention of European countries in the war. In fact, according to the polls conducted since the Russian invasion, fear of war with this country has been one of the main fears of the leaders and a large part of the European population. It seems the Europeans, especially the Germans, are terrified by the prospects of war with Russia, which is equivalent to the Third World War. No doubt, the Europeans fears do not stop here, and the second deeper fear is a Russian atomic strike, and as Putin continues to repeat his threats of tactical nuclear attacks or other atomic attacks in regular intervals, the fear continues to mount. Recently, an open letter by 28 outstanding figures to the German Federal government got popular in which they had asked Olaf Scholtz not to send offensive weapons, though the Bundestag had already voted for non-intensification of clashes and also people , in a letter signed by 150,000 persons until early this week, had asked the Federal government to hold talks with the parties to the war to achieve a peaceful solution to end the hostilities.
The reality is some sector of the European public opinion is suspicious of the US performance and in this situation it is not surprising that anti-American sentiment in Europe has reemerged, because Washington is accused if fuelling the flames of war in Ukraine and it aims to turn the crisis into a proxy war between NATO and Russia, without getting the allies’ consent.
Another important topic is that the US view has changed since the start of war, because the Ukrainians showed that they could successfully withstand the Russian invasion, and though Washington was cautious at the start of the war, not wanting to provoke Russia, sending as much arms as the Ukrainians would not disappear from the face of the earth, now with the situation changed, they are talking about $40 billion aid and as quoted by Lloyd Austin , the US Secretary of Defense, “the United States wants to see Russia so "weakened" that the country won't be able to launch a new invasion like the one in Ukraine in the future.” The Americans claim that they will do anything to help Ukraine to defend itself; Hence, the accusation of a proxy war. The uncompromising position of the US is supported by London’s more extreme view, which recommends Kiev not to give any concessions and not retreat from the Russians, because as quoted by Liz Truss, the Defense Minister, the Russian army must completely withdraw from Ukraine. It seems unlike her counterparts in the Europe Union, neither the American nor the UK authorities talk about Moscow’s nuclear threat , this is while the UK has been repeatedly been annihilated by Russia-backed TV propaganda off the map.
It is an open secret that these issues and the heavy tolls of inflation and food and energy basic goods price rise has raised differing voices from European states, a matter fluctuating between hope and despair. The reality that with Russia invasion of Ukraine, the importance of the North Atlantic Treaty has again been confirmed , and Macron’s claim of NATO’s brain death has been rebutted. But some believe the time for European defense has arrived, because after two months of clashes it is clear that the Americans and British have other agendas than the EU in Ukraine. For example, the Americans want to bring Russia to its knees, at least contain it during Putin’s presidency which may last for a long period. The Europeans, instead, who have intertwined interests with Moscow , have to find and offer a face-saving solution to Russia to pave the way for resumption of relations with Russia. Meanwhile, it has become clear for the Europeans the old lenient policy towards Russia does not work anymore, and for preventing further invasion into the European states, there is need for a European army more than ever.
Another important issue is Russia’s anticipation and patience. There is not yet a precise picture among the western countries of the Kremlin’s scenarios about Ukraine, and there is merely talk of some sort of Russian play for getting Europe off the US track. On the other side, Europe cannot imagine of what it would do if Russia’s nuclear threats come true , or if Russia takes a leap for conquering the southern Ukraine and reaching the mouth of the Danube, hence the spread of clashes to the West Balkans, what would be Europe’s reaction? In a summary, if the continuation of the crisis morphs into a continental or global war, what will be the strategies of NATO and Europe? Perhaps we should take an approach of patience and anticipation for analyzing and assessing the situation, considering how the developments unfold.
Dr.Ali Beman Eghbalizarch ,Eurasia Senior Expert
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)