vineri, 27 aprilie 2018
Transformation of the Security Environment at the EU’s Eastern Borders: Amplification of the Russian Factor
Communication at the international conference "The European Union and the Eastern Partnership: Security Challenges", 26-27 April 2018, Chișinău. Published in "The European Union and Eastern partnership: Security Challenges", ECSA, Chisinau, 2018, P. 179-184: http://www.studiieu.org/files/publications/EUSEC_book_2018_pdf.pdf
Abstract: Since 2007, Russia has made big steps towards strengthening its military potential. For president V. Putin, the collapse of the USSR was the biggest tragedy of the 20th century (25 million of Russians remained outside Russia’s borders). At the 2007 Munich Security Conference, Putin signaled to the West that he was seeking to restore his country’s world power status, which the US should have to take into account in an international multipolar system. Recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the annexation of Crimea, the support for Lugansk and Donetsk separatist regions constituted an evidence of Russia’s decision to restore its sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space. Putin has recommended himself as a “territory assembler”. If the Kremlin succeeded in restoring control over the post-Soviet states (such as Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine), the following could be the post-socialist states of Central and South-Eastern Europe – even if they are members of NATO and the EU. Brussels must manage the amplification of the Russian factor in the post-Soviet space as it has become a threat to European security. It is necessary to develop regional security architecture.
Keywords: security, European Union, Russian Federation, Eastern Europe, Republic of Moldova.
We live in a time of transformations in international relations environment. The world order is in a deep process of changes. A few new power centers – namely China and Russia – rise in some regions of the world, triggering the transition from the unipolar to the multipolar international system and from liberal to realist paradigm of development. China’s importance has been highlighted long time ago, in the period of the Cold War. In his book “The Analysis of International Relations”, published in 1968, the American researcher Karl W. Deutsch mentioned: “Nowadays, the idea of changing – or maintaining – “world order” through unilateral actions (the concept of “unilateralism”, so called by regretted professor Charles Lerche) can be taken seriously only by the United States, the Soviet Union and, perhaps, by communist China.” Karl W. Deutsch called the three mentioned countries “these three world giants”. Those three are giants even now. More than that, it is interesting that in the present, the mentioned three giants are representatives of three ideologies: US – liberal democracy, China – communism, and Russia – conservatism or traditionalism (at least, Russia’s leadership pretends this). In fact, Russia and China are countries with authoritarian political regimes in comparison with the Western liberal democratic countries: the US, the EU and NATO members and others.
In the present, the Russian Federation is in a process of consolidation of its international status and of its sphere of influence. In this context, it appears like a revisionist country, trying to undertake the revision of the world order, established after the Cold War. A prime aim for Kremlin is to keep the post-Soviet space (except the Baltic States) under its control after the loss of former socialist countries – Soviet Union satellites, from the socialist system, and the Baltic States, which are now within NATO and the European Union. A second aim could be the recuperation of the Baltic States and of some other countries from former socialist system, controlled once by Moscow.
That is why Russian actions pose a threat to NATO and EU security. The United States of America are deeply involved in security ensuring for NATO and EU members. As a result, in the current period, we are witnessing a confrontation between Russia and the West (NATO and the EU). At this stage, the interaction between two centers of power can be qualified as a hybrid war, an important component of which is information and cyber warfare.
Consolidation of the Russia’s sphere of influence: some tools
Russia uses a few instruments in order to keep and to strengthen its control in the post-Soviet space. There are three countries, which suffered from violent actions of Moscow. First, in 1992, imperial and nationalist Russian forces triggered a war in the Dniester region against the Republic of Moldova, in order to preserve under the Russian control the so-called Transnistrian region of Moldova, using the 14th Soviet army from Tiraspol, which did not withdraw until now. A second moment of pressure of Russia on another former Soviet republic was in 2008, when Moscow committed an aggression against Georgia, “defending” South Ossetia from Tbilisi. After the war, Russia recognized the “independence” of two Georgian autonomous republics: South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The third moment was in 2014, when Russia annexed the Ukrainian autonomous republic of Crimea and started supporting the Eastern separatist self-proclaimed the people’s republic of Lugansk and Donetsk – the conflict is still going on.
All tree intervention of Russia in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine were possible due to creating and supporting separatist republics. This instrument has shown its efficiency during the last decades. In post-Soviet area, Russia created a few such unrecognized states: Moldovan Nistrian Republic in Moldova; South Ossetia and Abkhazian republics in Georgia; and Lugansk and Donetsk People’s republics in Ukraine (excepting the Republic of Crimea, incorporated or annexed by Russia in 2014). It can be added also Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in Azerbaijan.
Although Russia used almost the same scenario in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, the scenario had specific features in each of the three post-Soviet republics. Russia frozen the conflict in Moldova and didn’t recognize the “independence” of Moldovan Nistrian Republic (Transnistria); Russia recognized the “independence” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, and Russia annexed Crimea, but does not recognize the “independence” of Lugansk and Donetsk People’s republics in Ukraine. Of course, there are clear explanations for each approach of Russia regarding each of the three post-Soviet republics. It is understandable that having internal conflicts (sustained by Russia) – territorial problems – Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine cannot be accepted in NATO and the EU. That is why the scenario of frozen conflicts – the scenario of “Transnistrisation” – is useful for Kremlin in achieving its goals in the post-Soviet area.
In the context of amplification of the Russian factor, the objective is to restore the international status of Russia as a regional center of power. Kremlin uses a few tools on post-Soviet republics, trying to control them more and more, in order to demonstrate the Russian power – the high capacity of controlling its near neighborhood – its sphere of influence. In all three mentioned post-Soviet countries, Moscow strategists used almost the same scenario: creating of new separatist republics – Moldovan Nistrian Republic in Moldova; South Ossetia and Abkhazian republics in Georgia; and Lugansk and Donetsk People’s republics in Ukraine. Even the Russian involvement in Syrian conflict, by supporting the President Bashar al Assad, can be approached from the point of view of strengthening the position of Russia in the post-Soviet space: Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The Syrian front, with the Russian participation, is an instrument to determine NATO (the US and other European states, such as Germany and France) to recognize the annexation of Crimea and the federalization of Ukraine, a state which should become weaker and more controlled by Kremlin, for example, through federalization.
Moldova’s security in the context of amplification of the Russian Factor
The Republic of Moldova is a country in Eastern Europe, with some specific advantages in relation with Russia (in comparison with some other post-Soviet countries, especially such as Georgia and Ukraine). First of all is that Moldova does not have a common (Russian-Moldovan) border. Still, Moscow can influence the Republic of Moldova, its politics, by presence of the Russian troops in Transnistrian region of Moldova (by frozen Transnistrian conflict), by the access or restriction on the Russian market for Moldovan migrants searching jobs, agricultural products, natural gas supplies, being a monopolistic provider.
Unfortunately, because of some internal problems (first of all, embezzlement and corruption), the young Moldovan state has not succeeded to finish the transition from totalitarian Soviet regime to democracy and a functional market economy. Moldova still is the poorest European country, with deep economic and social problems. As a result, thousands of Moldovan citizens leave abroad to find jobs in order to sustain their families from Moldova.
The Moldovan society is divided into two geopolitically oriented large groups (almost equal) by the criteria of vector of development: pro-West (pro European integration) and pro-East (pro Eurasian integration). The Moldovan identity is weak; by the identity criteria population is also divided into “Moldovans” (calling their mother tongue: “Moldovan” language) and “Romanians” (calling their mother tongue – the same language: Romanian). Nevertheless, there are a few ethnic minorities – Russians (mostly in Transnistria), Ukrainians (mostly in the Northern part of the country), Gagauzes and Bulgarians (in the South), very dedicated to Russia (in the Soviet times, in their regions of living, they were undergone to a russification process through kindergartens and schools with the Russian language of teaching).
Since 1991 (the year of independence proclamation of the Republic of Moldova) until now, Moldovan authorities have not formulated a state (regional) mission as a part of the country project.
All these elements make Moldova vulnerable for foreign challenges. During the military operations in Donbas, in 2014, in the Russian media was discussed the plan of creation of the province Novorosia: from Lugansk and Donetsk to Transnistria (including it). Although the plan was abandoned, it can be reactivated at any time.
Although Moldova is largely dependent on the Russian labor market and on the Russian agricultural products market, the political Moldovan-Russian relations are not the best. The illegal presence of the Russian troops in Transnistria (the frozen Transnistrian conflict), the embargos or restrictions for Moldovan agricultural products on the Russian markets are a few elements, which maintain tensions within the diplomatic dialogue. As an associated country to the European Union, Brussels should help Moldova in its interaction with Russia. In the context of amplification of the Russian factor in Eastern Europe, Russia is a threat to Chisinau authorities. It is obvious that Kremlin wants to reconquer Moldova in its sphere of influence, as a former Soviet republic – part of the Russian empire and of the Soviet Union, whose successor is Russia today.
From the moment of the President Vladimir Putin’s speech at the 2007 Munich Security Conference and especially after the Russian invasion in Georgia, in the province of South Ossetia, Russia constitutes a factor of regional destabilization in its attempt to keep the post-Soviet space (except the Baltic States) under its control and to consolidate its status of a regional center of power. The amplification of the Russian factor is a threat to NATO and EU security, but, first of all, to some post-Soviet republics, such as Moldova. Of course, a sincere dialogue between Brussels and Moscow is required. Anti-Russian economic sanctions are not so effective until now. Therefore, it is necessary to elaborate a special European strategy of interaction with Russia, especially regarding the post-Soviet countries from the Eastern Partnership (EaP) of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) of the EU. Three of them – Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine – signed association agreements (including free trade agreements) with the EU and showed their commitment to forward on the path of European integration. However, in the association agreement there are not any security guarantees, these states being exposed to the dangers from Russia.
As security challenges, common for Eastern Partnership countries and European Union members, the cooperation between them concerning regional security should be systematic and with an emphasis on practical perspectives.
It would be appropriate to include the above mentioned three countries in the European security strategy. The East European regional security architecture should be agreed between Brussels, Moscow and Washington, subjects that should provide security guarantees for countries from the region. A peaceful Eastern Europe can be an important factor of peaceful development both of the EU and Russia (Eurasian Economic Union).
Nowadays the Republic of Moldova does not have a clear mission, regarding its regional role. The duty of Moldovan authorities is to elaborate the mission of the state, which should be a part of the country project. This would contribute to the assurance of the societal security of the Republic of Moldova.
Buzan, Barry, Ole Wæver, and Jaap de Wilde. Securitatea: un nou cadru de analiză, Cluj-Napoca: CA Publishing, 2011.
Cioroianu, Adrian. Geopolitica Matrioșcăi – Rusia postsovietică în noua ordine mondială. București: Curtea Veche, 2009.
Deutsch, Karl W. Analiza relațiilor internaționale. Chișinău: Tehnica-Info, 2006.
Lavric, Aurelian. “Misiunea statului moldovenesc: de la origini până în present.” [Moldovan state mission: from the origins to present] Statalitatea Moldovei: Continuitatea istorică şi perspectiva dezvoltării (2017): 127-143.
Lavric, Aurelian. “Moldova in the context of EU’s Eastern Neighborhood: the Problem of the Regional Security Architecture.” Studia Securitatis 1 (2017): 32-43.
Сакович, В. А. Национальная безопасность Республики Молдова. Chișinău: Print-Caro, 2016.
 Karl W. Deutsch, Analiza relațiilor internaționale (Chișinău: Tehnica-Info, 2006), 88.
 Adrian Cioroianu, Geopolitica Matrioșcăi – Rusia postsovietică în noua ordine mondială (București: Curtea Veche, 2009), 152.
 В. А. Сакович, Национальная безопасность Республики Молдова (Chișinău: Print-Caro, 2016).
 Aurelian Lavric, “Misiunea statului moldovenesc: de la origini până în present,” [Moldovan state mission: from the origins to present] Statalitatea Moldovei: Continuitatea istorică şi perspectiva dezvoltării (2017): 127-143.
 Aurelian Lavric, “Moldova in the context of EU’s Eastern Neighborhood: the Problem of the Regional Security Architecture,” Studia Securitatis 1 (2017): 32-43.
 Barry, Buzan Ole Wæver and Jaap de Wilde, Securitatea: un nou cadru de analiză (Cluj-Napoca: CA Publishing, 2011).
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