Is Moldova Putin’s Next Target After Ukraine?

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CNN’s GPS show(07/24/22) aired a very interesting interview featuring Natalia Gavrilita, the Prime Minister of the small eastern European nation of Moldova, which shares a border with Ukraine. PM Gavrilita expressed her increasing fears that after Putin is done with Ukraine, he may set his eyes on her country, Moldova, because Moldova, like Ukraine, is on a rapid path towards E.U. integration.

The Russia-Ukraine war has had such an adverse global impact, that any talk of a possible Russian invasion of another country, should be cause for concern, not only for the United States, but for every democracy-loving country.

PM Gavrilita began by giving a brief introduction of Moldova, saying (1:13): “Moldova has had a troubled history in a complicated region, and it has not only been part of the Soviet Union, it has also been part of Romania between the first and second world war. The majority of the population is Romanian speaking, but we also have Ukrainian, Russian, Bulgarian, and Gagauz, which is a Turkish speaking minority.”

She went on to tell host Fareed Zakaria that like Ukraine, Moldova is rapidly moving towards E.U. integration. She specifically said(1:43): “In the last elections, the people have voted massively for a pro-European majority, for going the course of democratic institutions, fighting corruption, ensuring the respect for human rights, and striving towards the European integration course, so achieving candidate status for E.U. integration has been a significant victory for Moldova, one that people have waited for for a long time, but it is very unfortunate that it happens in such a complicated context in the region, and such horrible times for Ukraine.”

There is no other way to interpret PM Gavrilita’s remarks other than (I’ll be happy to stand corrected of course), Moldova’s rapid move towards E.U. integration comes at a time when Russia is increasingly suspicious of the West/NATO’s intentions. As a result, Putin is more likely to attack Moldova either during his invasion of Ukraine, or immediately thereafter, to prevent Moldova from joining the European Union. In other words, PM Gavrilita is simply sounding an early alarm bell, for a possible Russian invasion.

She went on to say this about her fear of a Russian invasion(3:35):“We are worried of course, this is a risk. It’s a hypothetical scenario for now, but if the military actions move further into the southwestern part of Ukraine, and towards Odessa, then of course we are very worried, especially considering that[Russian] troops[are already]on the territory of the secessionist Transnistrian region. We are doing everything possible to maintain peace and stability and to ensure that the fighting does not escalate.”

She went on to say that if Russia/Putin is allowed to get away with the annexation of large chunks of Ukraine, then no small country will be safe. She specifically said(4:26):“This is a very difficult position not just for Moldova, but for any small country, any country that relies on the rules-based international order. If a country can start an annexation war without any regard for international law, then in this sense, nobody is safe, and I think that a lot of countries are worried.”

Bottom line folks, the United States must develop a proactive approach when dealing with Russia and other adversaries. Where, as here, PM Gavrilita is sounding the alarm about a possible Russian invasion, the U.S. must do everything in its power to help Moldova prepare for any such eventuality. It’s better/cheaper to equip Moldova now, rather than after Russian tanks start rolling down their streets.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Europe appears to be churning out some very impressive female leaders lately–from Ursula von der Leyen, to Nicola Sturgeon, to Magdalena Anderson, to PM Gavrilita, who reasonable people will agree, was quite impressive on CNN’s GPS show. This begs the question: Is this the era of female/women leadership? The U.S. came very close (debatable point) to electing its first female president in 2016. Is 2024 the year the U.S. finally gets a female president? Hmm, Nikki Haley certainly thinks so. Oh, and by the way, Gavrilita is pronounced “Gavrilitsa”. Yeah, you didn’t know that.

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