The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Foreign Ministers Meeting was held in Bucharest on 29-30 November 2022, and at this meeting, the issue of increasing Moldova’s defense capabilities was discussed. However, the main purpose of the summit in Bucharest was to evaluate the Russia-Ukraine War and the military aid provided to the Kiev administration in this context. However, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, in his statement before the meeting, announced that Moldova would also attend the meeting. Aurescu stated that Moldova was invited to such a meeting for the first time and stated that NATO allies attach great importance to the stability of the country. In addition, Aurescu stated that the projects carried out by NATO with Moldovan authorities strengthen the country’s defense potential and said that Romania will continue its efforts to strengthen the Euro-Atlantic security system.
On the other hand, Major General Stephen Edwards, the US Special Operations Forces Command in Europe, went to Chisinau on November 28, 2022, and made a two-day visit to Moldova. Edwards announced that he visited the country in order to discuss the long-term partnership between the US and Moldova, and met with senior personnel of the Moldovan Army, especially Moldovan Defense Minister Anatoly Nosatii. In the meeting, Nosatii thanked the US for its contribution to the reform processes carried out in the Moldovan Armed Forces. Edwards also met with Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu. In this context, Popescu stated that common security issues and Moldova’s NATO orientation were evaluated.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in his statement in Bucharest, talked about the conflict environment in Ukraine and said that NATO was ready to support Moldovan. In this context, Stoltenberg said:
“Moldova is a NATO partner, receives assistance from Moldovan allies and the EU, and we see that the atrocities of this war affect not only Ukraine but the whole world, including Moldova.”
Speaking at the NATO meeting, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that the decision taken at the NATO Madrid Summit to strengthen the eastern flank of the alliance should be implemented and expressed his gratitude to the allies who decided to deploy troops on Romanian soil. Moreover, Iohannis emphasized that Moldova has a special importance for Romania and that the country is ready to provide the additional support it needs.
As it can be understood, important developments are taking place on the eastern flank of NATO. These developments are closely related to Russia’s destruction of Ukraine’s civil infrastructure, such as power lines, electrical transformers and natural gas pipelines, with air strikes. Ukraine has a serious air defense weakness and demands long-range missiles from NATO. Certainly, the worsening of the situation in Ukraine also directly affects Moldova. In other words, the developments are important for Moldova, especially for energy security.
Security issues in general, especially energy security emerging in Ukraine, have a negative impact on Moldova’s security. In this case, Moldova requests support from NATO countries. Romania, which closely monitors Moldova’s security and strives to ensure its security, tries to resolve Moldova’s security concerns through NATO.
In fact, Moldova has made remaining a neutral country the basic principle of its foreign policy. However, this does not mean that Moldova is isolated, nor does it mean that it has a limited relationship with NATO. Moldova wants to improve its relations with NATO, to receive security guarantees and to increase its defense capacity.
As can be understood, a new security architecture is being built in eastern Europe. Romania wants Moldova to be included in this. Vitaliy Ignatiev, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Transnistria, the separatist region in Moldova, is disturbed by the developments and claims that the US and UK are arming the Chisinau administration. Ignatiev claims that this process poses a threat to them and destabilizes the region.
Undoubtedly, the arming of Moldova means strengthening its hand against Transnistria. However, Transnistria is protected by the Russian Peacekeeping Force. About 2,500 Russian soldiers are on duty in the region. Although the presence of these soldiers in the region is mostly symbolic, they serve to protect the separatist structure in Transnistria.
Consequently, the Russia-Ukraine War brings Moldova to the agenda in the context of the Transnistria Question. While data regarding the war indicate that Russia is losing in Ukraine, NATO, and Romania in particular, attach importance to increasing Moldova’s defense capacity. In a sense, this situation stems from the aim of limiting Russia’s influence in Transnistria. The developments in the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting confirm this.
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