Rom Eng
RSS feed
Nicu Popescu

Home / Analyses / The Ukrainian Gas Crisis Is Over; Moldova Now Feels The Heat. Vlad Lupan.
The Ukrainian Gas Crisis Is Over; Moldova Now Feels The Heat. Vlad Lupan.
Print version

The Ukraine-Russia gas crisis has ended, and one might think everyone has returned to business as usual. But after Ukraine, the next item of business is Moldova.

Russia, as both European Union and U.S. officials recall, has used gas for political leverage on previous occasions, and at a time when international attention is still focused on the link between gas and politics, the foreign ministers of both Romania and Russia are set to visit Moldova, where elections are planned for March or April. Cristian Diaconescu is visiting on January 22, and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in February.

Moldova was one of the countries most severely affected by the January gas crisis. The EU Coordination Group on gas issues formally noted on January 9 that all supplies of Russian gas to Moldova were halted, and that Moldova had zero gas reserves, and no source of alternative gas supplies or other sources of energy.

Moldova's Deputy Industry Minister Tudor Copaci declared on January 14 that the current crisis has forced Moldova to reassess its present 100 percent dependency on Russian gas. To diversify these deliveries, Chisinau intends to formally apply to join the Nabucco project, but in order to do so it will need Bucharest's support.

According to Moldovan energy expert Ion Preasca, Ukraine halted gas supplies to Moldova only for 24 hours and then resumed them. But Moldova has refused to sign a new agreement on purchasing electricity from Ukraine, even though Kyiv reportedly offered a fair and acceptable price. Moldova's Communist leadership has instead signed an agreement with the Cuciurgan Power Station, located in the separatist Transdniester region. The Cuciurgan Power Station is owned by Russia's Unified Energy System (EES), which has close links to the Kremlin; the intermediaries are unclear.

During the gas crisis, the Moldovan government addressed written appeals to both Ukraine and Russia to resume gas deliveries. European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs issued a press release on January 10 thanking Ukraine for supplying gas from its reserves to Moldova and Bulgaria. Then on January 14, the prime ministers of those two countries, together with a senior Slovak government official, flew to Moscow where they attended a press conference alongside Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, thereby giving the impression of wholehearted support for Russia's moves.

Pulled East And West

This inconsistent, even contradictory behavior on the part of the Moldovan leadership is nothing new. On the contrary, it is regarded within Moldova as one of the hallmarks of the post-Communist and current Communist authorities. This is, after all, not the first crisis in Moldova. The country's entire foreign and domestic policy reflects the degree to which Moldova is pulled in two directions: both toward Russia, and toward Europe.

The Communists returned to power in Moldova in 2001, promising to take the country into the Russia-Belarus Union. But two years later, in late 2003, faced with crowds of protesters outside the presidential palace, they rejected a memorandum drafted by Russian presidential envoy Dmitry Kozak that envisaged resolving the Transdniester conflict by designating Moldova an asymmetric federal state, within which the Transdniester leaders, who hold Russian citizenship, would have had the right to veto parliament decisions. The proposed settlement also provided for a long-term Russian military presence in Moldova.

The period between 2001 and 2003 was a time of deep freeze in relations with Romania, with which Moldova shares a common history and culture. The pro-European shift of 2004 resulted in Moscow imposing an embargo on imports of Moldovan wine and other agricultural produce, for which Russia was Moldova's primary export market.

It is widely believed that Russia meddled shamelessly in Moldova's 2005 elections, channeling financial support to those parties that opposed the renegade Moldovan communists.

In the runup to those elections, the victors of Georgia's Rose Revolution and Ukraine's Orange Revolution traveled to Chisinau to express support for Moldova's integration into the EU. So too did Romanian President Traian Basescu. Russia's response was the 2006-2007 gas crisis. The Moldovan Communists yielded to Russian pressure, and resumed secret bilateral negotiations with Moscow on resolving the Transdniester conflict outside the agreed international 5+2 format (Moldova, Transdniester, the OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine, with observers from the United States and EU) in the hope of persuading Russia to be more flexible and support the Communists in the elections due in 2009. Consequently, Romania was again regarded as an enemy.

In August 2008, when Russia attacked Georgia, the authorities in Chisinau finally realized that the outcome of those renewed negotiations would duplicate the 2003 Kozak Memorandum. In short, Russia would never abandon its ambitions to dominate and manipulate the so-called "near abroad" (meaning all former Soviet republics except the Baltic states), within which Moldova is one of the weakest links.

In August 2008, this author anticipated that the Georgian-Russian war would impel Moldova onto a clear pro-European course, and that it would again solicit support from Romania. In last month's Romanian parliamentary elections, Romanian nationals from Moldova won election for the first time. Bucharest has designated relations with Moldova a priority, and Foreign Minister Diaconescu will arrive in Moldova on January 22 on his first official foreign visit since his appointment one month ago.

Moldova's Communists are in a dilemma: if they seek rapprochement with Europe, they will be required to enact more reforms and their popular support is likely to dwindle. The embassies of EU states are increasingly criticizing the Moldovan leadership for dragging its feet over reforms. And any overt move toward Europe risks provoking renewed Russian interference in Moldovan domestic politics in the runup to the April elections.

In fact, Moldova's Communists do not know which direction to choose. They want energy security in which Romania will play a role, a wealthier European future, to win the elections without Russian interference, and still to be on good terms with the Kremlin, which has little liking for Romania. It is probably an opportune moment for the Communists to think deeply about whether party politics should take precedence over a predictable and more secure European future, with the support of neighboring Romania and the EU, and whether this time around Moldova should choose what it wants. Otherwise Russia might make this choice on their behalf during Foreign Minister Lavrov's upcoming visit, and the Moldovan Communists might not like it after all.
Vlad Lupan is a former Moldovan Foreign Ministry official.

comments powered by Disqus
Home / Analyses / The Ukrainian Gas Crisis Is Over; Moldova Now Feels The Heat. Vlad Lupan.
Opinions & Comments

The new presidents of Bulgaria and Moldova are less pro-Russian than advertised.The Economist. 14.11.2016 11.11.2016
Victoria Bucataru of the Foreign Policy Association, a Moldovan think-tank, suspects that Mr Dodon and Mr Plahotniuc had “a secret alliance” to stop Ms Sandu and her reform agenda. She anticipates that Mr Dodon will follow his announced first visit to Moscow with a reassuring one to Brussels. His election
Moldova Elections Aren’t About Europe or Russia. They’re About Moldova.Andrew Kolb.German Marshall Fund. 10.11.2016 11.11.2016
After this week’s U.S. election, not many in the United States or Western Europe are focused on the elections that are taking place in Moldova. Those who have been following saw a fascinating political drama unfold, as Maia Sandu took 38 percent of the vote to Socialist Party’s Igor
Crisis in Moldova. A republic, if you can steal it. The Economist. 30.01.2016 01.02.2016
IN 1918 the then three-month-old Moldovan republic gave up the struggle for survival and united with neighbouring Romania. It is a sign of how dire things are today, says Iulian Fota, a Romanian analyst, that people are talking about doing so again. Ever since 2014, when the embezzlement of about
Read more: Opinions & Comments

Interview with Mr. Ion Sturza, ex Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova: „It is not Putin who is powerful, it is the global leaders who are weak “. 23.03.2014 23.03.2014 // 92.702Kb

Mr. Sturza (53 years old) has started his political carrier in 1999 and became well-known for his nine-month running of the government. Although he withdrew from the political scene, many conationals would be in favor of his presidency in the county across the Prut River (Republic of Moldova – note
Interview with Victor Chirila: Moldova is close to becoming politically and institutionally failed state. Info-Prim Neo. 27.05.2013. 28.05.2013
The Republic of Moldova is very close to becoming a politically and institutionally failed state that will be ignored by its main foreign partners. According to Victor Chirila, executive director of the Foreign Policy Association, the only chance to avoid this collapse is to form a pro-European Government consisting of
Interview with the President of the Republic of Moldova, Nicolae Timofti, to the Lithuanian website 13.07.2012
Nicolae Timofti: I mean a bridge for people, goods and ideas to cross it over. In the Republic of Moldova, we have experts and institutions which are familiar with both East and West. Hundreds of thousands of Moldovans have travelled in Western Europe during the last years and continue to
Read more: Interviews

REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL, Fourth Report on the implementation by the Republic of Moldova of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation. 21.06.2013. 21.06.2013 // 215.386Kb

Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2012 Regional Report: Eastern Partnership, Brussels, 20.3.2013, SWD(2013) 85 final 21.03.2013

Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Republic of Moldova, Progress in 2012 and recommendations for action, Brussels, 20.3.2013, SWD(2013) 80 final 21.03.2013 // 203.862Kb

Read more: Documents

Frontiers of Democracy:Embedding Democratic Values in Central and Eastern Europe. Good practices and limits of transferability/ CEU/Visegrad Fund/APE. Edited by Bogdan Mihai Radu and Zsuzsanna Végh 02.02.2017
Democratization is a complex process that entails both critical choices of new institutions, and the rooting of those institutions in the societal ethos. Much of the literature on democratic transition, consolidation and Europeanization has been dominated by the study of legal and institutional crafting, especially concerning the post-communist and post-Soviet
Corneiul Ciurea: Confidence-Building in Moldova: Domestic and External Security Challenges. EU/ CIPDD/ APE/ PIC /EaP/ CSF 25.08.2016
Moldova’s security requires a consistent response to home-grown corruption and the risk of resulting political destabilisation along side the risks posed by the Russia Ukraine conflict and information warfare. Confidence-Building in Moldova:Domestic and External Security Challenges assesses the priorities for a security strategy to rebuild trust among citizens and strengthen
Dovilė Šukytė,Victoria Bucătaru,Simonas Čepėnas,Hennadiy Maksak,Svetlana Rogov,Iurii VdovenkoECONOMIC CHALLENGES OF UKRAINE AND MOLDOVA ON THE WAY TO EU. 22.02.2016 // 922.737Kb

The study is a result of the Capacity Building for Moldovan and Ukrainian NGOs to Assess the Economic Impact of Politically Motivated Actions project made possible by the re-granting mechanism of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, which includes assistance of the European Union and the National Endowment for Democracy.
Read more: Studies

Weekly Radio Programme 01.02.2009

Read more: Multimedia
str. Sciusev 64, MD-2012 Chisinau, Republica Moldova

Tel.: +373-22-224430, 210986
+373-22-210986, 233950
News  |  Analyses  |  Opinions & Comments  |  Interviews  |  Statements  |  Documents  |  Conferences  |  Studies  |  Events  |  EU - Transnistrian Dialogues  |  Multimedia  |  APE in MassMedia  |  Friedrich Ebert Stiftung  |  Projects  |  European Negociators
Copyright © 2020 Asociaţia pentru Politica Externă din Moldova.
All rights reserved.

This web site was developed and launched with the support of the British Embassy in Moldova
TRIMARAN - IT Solutions Company // web, interactive, motion and software development solutions //, B2B and B2C solutions  /  Branding & Graphic Design Services / Website Design and Development  /  E-Commerce Systems / Software Application Architecture and Development / Multimedia solutions  /  2D/3D modeling & animation solutions / Video & Post Production /
Made in Trimaran
Visits: 509683
Update by: 23.01.2018