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26 mai 2020 - Special reports - Weekly review

D.S.M. WEEKLY REPORT - Main Political and Military Developments (WEEK 21 of 2020)

Sandu Valentin Mateiu

I. UNITED STATES / RUSSIA / EUROPE. The U.S. quits the Open Sky Treaty. II. EUROPEAN UNION. Franco-German initiative on economic recovery. III. RUSSIA. Russian military activities in the Black Sea region. IV. UKRAINE / RUSSIA. Mixed signals from the Donbass crisis. V. REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. Gloves are off between Dodon’s and Plahotniuc’s camps. VI. Developments to track this Week 22 of 2020.

Sursă foto: Mediafax

English version by Mircea Mocanu

I. UNITED STATES / RUSSIA / EUROPE. The U.S. quits the Open Sky Treaty.

The Open Skies Agreement is meant to secure a minimal transparency between Russia and NATO, thus contributing to European security. But this accord is about to vanish too, as did or do other such strategic arrangements. The United States announced its withdrawal form Open Skies after accusing Russia of breaching it. Washington also requested Moscow to proceed to full implementation of this agreement within next six months, should Russia want to give Open Skies a chance. The six months is the time needed between withdrawal announcement and the official end of the treaty. In response, Moscow accused the United States of destroying the strategic stability in Europe by such decision, and it rejected the “ultimatum”. France and Germany, along other eight European nations, reacted in a communiqué criticizing the U.S. decision and expressing their hope in Open Skies’ survival. The North-Atlantic Council (ambassador level) was immediately summoned as well.

However, this agreement has a feature stemming from the past: Open Skies belongs to an era when the Soviet Union was on equal footing with NATO, even having some advantage, and it sought transparency for avoiding a conflict; in contrast, nowadays Russia is weak but aggressive, and it uses any means to gain leverage, it uses even this accord, by failing to comply with its letter and spirit. Such attitude was tolerated by previous American administrations, who used to respond with diplomatic restraint, as European heavyweights do now. This is not the case for President Donald Trump who, while showing openness to Russia, will not tolerate to be cheated in any agreement. Vladimir Putin met his nemesis in his very “friend” Trump, but the main losers are the Europeans, and the Kremlin will seek to capitalize on their frustration.

On May 21st, the United States announced its withdrawal from Open Skies, which surprised even the Europeans, although such move was expected, since Washington had voiced its discontent regarding Russia’s failure to comply with agreement stipulations: Moscow failed to accept flights over strategic regions and areas where important military exercises were conducted. Later, on May 22nd, Russia was officially notified on U.S. decision. In a May 21st communiqué, the U.S. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced that the United States “cannot remain in arms control agreements that are violated by the other side, and that are actively being used not to support but rather to undermine international peace and security”. He described the restrictions set by Russia on flights, against the Open Skies agreement stipulations, and accused Moscow of using the treaty as a coercion tool:  “Moscow appears to use Open Skies imagery in support of an aggressive new Russian doctrine of targeting critical infrastructure in the US and Europe with precision-guided conventional munitions... Rather than using the Open Skies as a mechanism for improving trust and confidence through military transparency, Russia has, therefore, weaponized the Treaty by making it into a tool of intimidation and threat”. Mike Pompeo left the door ajar in case U.S. reconsidered the withdrawal decision, should Russia turn to comply with the Open Skies agreement, in its entirety. This decision inspired approval by American conservative politicians, but opposite reactions from former national security officials. It becomes visible that the United States would have left the treaty long ago, had it not been for the consideration bestowed by the European allies in the value of Open Skies agreement.

Russia’s responsible official on the issue, deputy foreign minister Aleksandr Grushko declared that “the withdrawal by the US from this treaty would be not only a blow to the foundation of European security… but to the key security interests of the allies of the US”. He accused President Trump of trying to justify the exit from a “fundamental treaty” via “technical issues” that should be resolved within the treaty... Nothing prevents continuing the discussions over the technical issues which the US is misrepresenting as violations by Russia”. He added that Russia would not yield to the American “ultimatum” (to comply with the agreement within next six months for having the United States reverse the withdrawal decision).

In a May 22nd common declaration, ten European nations spearheaded by France and Germany, who were joined by Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden have announced their regret for U.S. withdrawal announcement, although they share the concerns about the way Russia implements the Open Skies agreement. In the declaration, these countries highlight that Open Skies is a crucial agreement for consolidating mutual trust by promoting transparency. The ten nations announce their intent to continue implementing the agreement, which “remains functioning and useful”. They also announce their intent to engage discussions with Russia in the attempt to solve the problem of non-compliance with the agreement, such as Russian interdiction of flights over the Kaliningrad exclave, by requesting Moscow to lift these restrictions and continue the dialogue with all interested partners. The European heavyweights initiated an emergency NAC session, as they were discontent because Washington announcement caught them by surprise. In the NATO Secretary General communiqué, Jens Stoltenberg states that the Alliance remains strongly committed to preserve an effective arms control, and points that, although NATO always fulfilled its commitments, for many years, Russia had “imposed flight restrictions inconsistent with the treaty, including flight limitations over Kaliningrad, and restricting flights in Russia near its border with Georgia... Russia’s ongoing selective implementation has undermined the Open Skies Treaty”. Stoltenberg notices that, although the United States announced its withdrawal, Washington can reverse this decision if Russia complies with Open Skies stipulations. The Allies will engage in discussions with Russia for reaching its compliance with the agreement. Highly likely, the NAC was tensed and reflected the European heavyweights’ (France and Germany) disappointment in U.S. decision.

The Open Skies agreement was profitable especially for countries with no satellite capabilities, as it allowed collecting intelligence on the adversary. It allows flights over adversary territory with airplanes carrying equipment for still and moving imagery captures, infrared sensors, and radar, all vetted by the other party. The imagery should have limited resolution (30 centimeters), but the radar picture may provide 3D radar imagery products. Open Skies has an important role for obtaining information on adversary targets and military exercises. Changes which occurred after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and the collapse of Soviet Union led to the situation featuring two parties of the agreement: on one side there is Russia and Belarus, and on the other side there is NATO and EU nations (less Austria, Ireland and Cyprus), as well as countries close to these latter nations: Ukraine, Georgia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

Putin’s Russia breached the agreement: 1) it denied flights over strategic regions (where ballistic missiles are suspicioned to have been deployed) – Kaliningrad first, but also hot areas, such as Russia’s border with Georgia; 2) it denied flights over areas where military exercises were conducted, using various pretexts and disinformation; 3) it digitalized the still picture equipment on board its reconnaissance planes, leaving the suspicion of enhanced resolution capability (hence the suspicion that Moscow uses the Open Skies agreement for targeting, target acquisition for its missile strike planning); 4) in addition, Russia showed arrogance in gestures like overflying President Trump’s residence (known for his ego) or designating an airfield in Crimea as Open Skies plane refueling   base (accepting that would mean recognizing Crimea’s annexation). In response, the United States responded by banning Russian flights over Alaska and Hawaii Islands.

Bottom line, after Russia cheated with the Open Skies, the Europeans consider that, for the sake of European security, such behavior is acceptable, while the United States, with a global and blunt approach, refuses to continue tolerating Moscow’s ill-doing. The withdrawal announcement will have a negative impact on Washington’s relations with some of its European allies. These have requested the U.S. to refrain from withdrawing because the possibility that all flights over Russia might be lost, which would lead to a security deficit in Europe. The Europeans will seek to save the Open Skies agreement, for arms control needs: it is the last mutual verification and trust proving means between the two sides. But they will try to save it for a second reason too, and that is Europeans’ intention to continue the traditional strategy of communicating with the self-declared adversary – Russia, because, although they cannot achieve cooperation, they hope to avert this way an aggression in Europe. Most likely, Moscow will seek to gain the most from this situation. On one side, Moscow will open negotiations with the Europeans and will continue the agreement on Russian terms (no flight over Kaliningrad or in the Caucasus), hoping that the Europeans will turn the United States back into Open Skies. Highly likely, the United States will not reverse its decision on Open Skies agreement, not only because Russia breaches it, but because this administration does not accept agreements that limit its freedom of maneuver anymore. The fear that this policy will lead to denouncing the New START in not founded. Most likely, the United States will extend the New START agreement, but for a short period of six months, maybe one year. 

Finally, Europe will be less secure, although security (or rather insecurity) of the continent does not stem from Open Skies photographs, but from the policy decided by leaders at play, especially Vladimir Putin, the leader of the revanchist and aggressive power. In the mind of such leaders,  the trust of westerners is only an item that can be exploited with the cynicism typical for Soviet-KGB thinking. To the Kremlin disappointment, and frustration of European heavyweights, the West also has its own cynic, who mercilessly strikes the Kremlin cynics’ plans; true, with negative collateral effects on the confrontation ground called Europe.


II. EUROPEAN UNION. Franco-German initiative on economic recovery.

Franco-German initiative to establish a 500 billion Euro European Recovery Fund is remarkable for committing a common European responsibility for the loans. Many discussions will follow, opposing views and pro domo interpretations by various European nations, but, at financial level, and especially at political level, it is a huge leap forward made especially by Germany, in the process of European construction. The joint commitment for loans, respectively the beginning of building a common financial policy secures the missing pillar, while a functional common monetary policy is in place. Much remains to be done, for example the agreement by the other European capitals, as the fund will be part of the European budget architecture. However, the EU crossed another bridge and got closer, at least one inch, to the “United States of Europe” [1]. Although the initiative is complex, we will focus here only on financial issues with political impact.

Following a May 18th (video-) meeting between Chancellor Angela Markel and President Emmanuel Macron, France and Germany proposed a European economic recovery plan of 500 billion Euros. This money would be commonly lent by the European nations to be distributed with no cost to regions and economic sectors most impacted by the economic crisis in the aftermath of current Coronavirus pandemic. The two European powers will open the path to a new decision of all Europeans in this issue, as they did in other issues in the past. They proposed to the European Commission (EC) that this money be lent by the EU in its entirety and added to the 2021-2027 multiannual EU budget (of over one trillion Euros). The money will be invested in projects meant to transform European economy into a digital and “green” economy. Of course, grants from the Recovery Fund will have strings attached - they are to be “based on a clear commitment from Member States to follow sound economic policies and an ambitious reform agenda”, as the document says (however, jointly committing on loans comes first, and then the reform request). The lent money will be returned on the long run, as Germany is prepared to pay for 27% of the funds (the same proportion as its contribution to the European budget). By Ursula von der Leyen’s voice, the EC declared its support for this initiative, and the next step will be on May 27th, when the EC issues propositions regarding the Recovery Fund and the multiannual budget.  

President Emmanuel Macron insisted on the political relevance of this initiative: “That’s a real change in philosophy... I believe this is a very deep transformation and that’s what the European Union and the single market needed to remain coherent. It’s what the Euro Zone needs to remain united”. The same, Chancellor Angela Merkel stated: “We must act in a European way so that we get out of the crisis well and strengthened”.

In the first place Italy, who wants 100 billion Euros, but other southerners as well, greeted the initiative, while the “frugal quartet” (Holland, Sweden, Denmark, and Austria) put counter-propositions on the table, mainly “debts for debts” (money should be lent, not granted), and they also insisted on conditions. The “frugal quartet” will likely push for strict conditions and yield on the “free money” issue. Thus, Angela Merkel mentioned the strong cooperation with Italy and the Netherlands, the top representatives of the South, respectively North. This strong cooperation probably means their provisional agreement on the common loans (the Netherlands) and on conditions (Italy). Again, this is a commonly assumed approach both by the South (the main loan beneficiary) and by the North (which will request reforms by the beneficiaries).

Practically, in addition to allotments from the multiannual budget, the Franco-German tandem proposes a true recovery plan based on loans jointly guaranteed by the EU. Germany made a huge step (to the North disappointment, who, nevertheless, will follow it), but will insist on establishing conditions regarding the allotments and adequate reforms meant to stabilize the European financial system. Highly likely, despite all opposition and discussions, the Franco-German initiative will come true, and the (financially) united Europe will prevail. The two European leaders Merkel and Macron will face resistance in implementing the initiative not only at European level, but also at home. Angela Merkel will face opposition from AfD, the German Euro-skeptical far-right, but will also meet deeper nationalist stances (as the Constitutional Court decision proved regarding the European Central Bank policy). The same, Emmanuel Macron will face opposition[2] by French anti-European far-right led by Marie Marine Le Pen.

Bottom line, this is a small financial step (although expensive for net contributors, those guaranteeing the debts without any profit), but a huge political step for the European Union. For countries like Romania, beware! Money will come only after proving Coronavirus damages (no other older and enduring “viruses”), and also after proving we fit the future capitalism, which the money is meant for (the digital and “green” Europe).


III. RUSSIA. Russian military activities in the Black Sea region.

Facing new American strategic flights in northern Europe (B1 bombers escorted by Norwegian F35s. then Swedish SAAB Grippen aircraft), Russia responded with flights of its own strategic aviation, two Tu 22M3 bombers in the southern flank of its border with NATO, in the Black Sea region[3]. Although NATO nations in the region reacted, each with its means, Russia scored the difference between the two NATO flanks, more precisely it pointed at NATO southern flank vulnerability. Russia also conducted a naval exercise utilizing two Kilo class submarines and another exercise employing two Admiral Grigorovich class frigates. The naval exercises and the strategic flights highlighted Russia’s air and naval strategic superiority in the Black Sea region.

On May 19th, two Tu 22M3 strategic bombers (08341 and 08242) conducted a fight over the Black Sea. They took off from Shaykovka AFB on a trajectory leading them towards the NATO air space (Romanian, Bulgarian, and Turkish). These aircraft flew with their transponders off in air traffic control areas of those countries. According to available information, in certain areas, the bombers were escorted by two pairs of Su 30SM fighters which took off from Crimea. The air operation was coordinated from an A50U airplane (the Russian AWACS; 505610), which had been deployed to Belbek AFB on May 18th. Russian imagery shows that one of the Tu 22M3 participating in this mission had an anti-ship Kh 32 missile[4].

On May 20th, Moscow announced the flight of two Tu 22M3 bombers in the international air space above the Black Sea, and specified that, on some segments of their trajectory, those bombers would be escorted by fighters belonging to Strategic Operational Command South. On May 21st, NATO announced that NATO aircraft intercepted Russian aircraft above the Black Sea: “Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish jets, all part of the NATO Air Policing, intercepted a Russian aircraft on May 19, which was flying close to the NATO air space… The Alliance Quick Reacting Alert jets were dispatched to prevent Russia from entering NATO air space”. NATO Allied Command Operations specified that NATO Air Policing jets from Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey were launched “due to Russian air activity close to NATO airspace… two Russian Tu-22 bombers, escorted by two Su-27 fighters, were approaching Romanian airspace. Two Romanian MiG-21 jets took off, yet did not approach the Russian aircraft, but rather shadowed them. After, Bulgarian MiG-29 jets took off and patrolled several miles distance from the Russian aircraft. The Russian aircrafts then headed towards the Turkish airspace. Turkish Air Force - TUAF F-16 fighters were scrambled twice to shadow their way along the southern Black Sea coast before turning north”. 

Perhaps the difference in reporting is explained by the fact that the Russians wanted to highlight that visual identification was made from afar, and the main identification was made by radar. Considering the Turkish double scrambling, the interception and close shadowing of the Tu 22M3 bombers (as well as the difference – one or two pairs of Su 30SM fighters), we can imagine the situation where Turkish aircraft were scrambled twice to intercept red force aircraft in two situations when Russian Tu 22M3 bombers were escorted by separate pairs of Su 30SM fighters in consequent missions, as directed by the A50U airplane. Certainly, something interesting happened during the interception, between Turkish F 16s and Russian Su 30SMs (given that Russia and Turkey find themselves in an undeclared war by proxies, in Libya).

For Romania, many things can be said, but let us just express admiration for those who really deserve respect: the Romanian pilots who, operating MiG 21 fighters of generation 2+ scrambled to intercept Tu 22M3M bombers of 3+ generation escorted by Su 30SM fighters of generation 4++.


IV. UKRAINE / RUSSIA. Mixed signals from the Donbass crisis.

This past week, political and military tensions between Ukraine and Russia soared. On one side, an increase in diplomatic activity was seen, with Germany in the spot: after Dmitry Kozak’s visit to Berlin, German foreign minister communicated both with Washington and Moscow. There was also Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s review, where he presented his position and perspective for solving the Donbass conflict. On the other hand, big problems started at the contact line: the separatists alerted their troops, and fire exchanges soared, with increasing numbers of casualties. Maybe, facing a trustful Zelenskiy, who seems confident of having a solution for Donbass, being supported by the West, the Kremlin has decided it was time to give Kyiv a lesson. Anyway, something is brewing (there is an upcoming Normandy format meeting, after the pandemic, as announced by Zelenskiy), and it is interesting to watch what Russia has in store for the West as proposition on Donbass (in fact, on Ukraine).

In his yearly review, President Zelenskiy presented the following, in the Donbass issue: a Normandy format meeting will take place after the pandemic is gone; Zelenskiy is ready for a meeting with President Putin for discussing a solution for the Donbass conflict; Ukraine has a Plan B, even a Plan C for the current situation, when talking about implementing the Minsk Agreements (yet nothing gets implemented, not even the contact line cease-fire at least). President Zelenskiy’s approach was full of confidence, on the backdrop of Western support and domestic support (although his popularity decreased, he still benefits quasi-total support for solving the Donbass conflict). This was not overlooked by the Kremlin, where, most likely, the questions were What is Kyiv’s Plan B, respectively Plan C? And Where from so much confidence of President Zelenskiy, had it not been for guarantees that the West would yank concessions from Russia?

On the diplomatic stage, the Germans were highly active after the recent visit paid by Dmitry Kozak to Berlin. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had a phone discussion with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, regarding the situation in Ukraine. Highly likely, the topic was the answer to Russia’s propositions regarding the Donbass conflict solutions, not only the implementation of Minsk Agreements. After Kozak’s visit, the Ukrainians announced they were not afraid of talks behind their back, being sure they would be informed by the Westerners on negotiation development.

In the Minsk Trilateral Working Group (TWG), the Ukrainians irritated the separatists with the proposition that, in this new framework, Donbass representative delegation should include Donbass inhabitants who found refuge in Ukraine, not separatist leaders. Ukraine went as far as presenting copies of Russian passports held by separatist leaders, respectively by Donbass representatives in the TWG, which would make them non-eligible to represent the region in negotiations. The Minsk negotiations will be tough, especially since Zelenskiy was wise enough to keep former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma as head of Kyiv’s delegation.

Invoking repeated cease-fire breaches by the Ukrainians, the separatists in Luhansk and Donetsk alerted their troops and intensified fire at the contact line, they even used 120-millimeter howitzers (an effective weapon, by precision and impact, against infantry positions). As result, the number of deaths and wounded in Ukrainian ranks increased. The Ukrainian forces responded with enough precision, as a separatist battalion commander was killed in the fire exchanges. Highly likely, the separatist military reaction was not only in response to Ukrainian force military actions, but a political response dictated by Moscow to Kyiv’s position in the TWG, and in the general framework of negotiations and Minsk Agreement implementation.

In the Donbass conflict, the Kremlin is forced to show restraint during the Coronavirus crisis currently shaking Russia from health, economy and policy points of view (although a decrease in contaminations is announced, the contamination rate remains high, and the number of deaths increases). Even in these circumstances, the Kremlin must carefully negotiate a solution with the West on Donbass. The pursued solution should simulate concessions, without giving anything important though, because Moscow needs economic concessions from the West (sanction lifting) without dropping Ukraine from its grasp.


V. REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. Gloves are off between Dodon’s and Plahotniuc’s camps.

After more Democrat Party (PDM) deputies left to “Pro Moldova” and Shor Party (Plahotniuc’s camp), Igor Dodon’s majority became fragile. It is just a matter of time before Dodon loses the majority in the Parliament, and his government is threatened to fall. Dodon’s reaction was to threaten with early elections, but he also threatened political adversaries (using “his prosecutors”) and the Constitutional Court (CC). On this background, of political impasse and desperation, Republic of Moldova (RM) cannot get money either from the EU, or from Russia. They cannot lie the EU any longer, as Romanian expertise in RM lies about implementing reforms, which Dodon and his henchmen are experts, fends off any trick. And they cannot sell RM to Russia now, after the CC stopped Dodon’s financial machinations. In these conditions, Prime Minister Ion Chicu had a remarkably low anti-Romanian outburst, traitorous too. While Chicu betrayed RM through the loan agreement with Russia, now he betrayed Romania, the country which granted him citizenship because of historical obligation as Romania granted to any Bessarabian, and the country to which he should have showed minimal respect, since what else might one ask from such character, ‘tool of Igor Dodon, Russia influence agent, who sold himself for one million dollars a month’).

Evidence surfaced about the reason that caused the war within PDM: the money given by Igor Dodon to Pavel Filip for continuing PDM alliance with the Socialists… did not reach the party. Therefore, another two PDM deputies discovered the mistake PDM is guilty for, the alliance with a traitorous party, Dodon’s Socialists, and they left to those who did not betray the country, but only robbed it (including the theft of the billion), Plahotniuc’s grouping Pro Moldova & Shor Party. It seems that in RM everything is for sale, a trade of so-called deputies. Thus, the PDM ship sinks and the majority in the Parliament sinks too (only 52 of a total of 101 deputies), respectively Dodon’s Chicu government sinks as well.

Worse, a new video recording appeared, and it shows Igor Dodon taking a bag of money from Vladimir Plahotniuc. Its effect will be low though, as Dodon controls the force institutions, so no accusation will be made against him, as it also happened in the case of video recording where Dodon was explicitly requesting Plahotniuc to sell his country by signing a new Kozak plan at the Russian Embassy. However, Plahotniuc’s grouping still holds many compromising elements against Igor Dodon (perhaps the recording of Dodon taking money for voting president Timofte… which would upset Moscow!). This might be the reason for which Dodon keeps postponing the moment to announce his candidacy to RM presidency, although the election date was already decided. Holding the Prosecution Office in his hands, Igor Dodon speeded up the process of incriminating Plahotniuc for the theft of the billion and requests his extradition from the United States (although, besides maleficent Plahotniuc, Shor and Filat, many others are involved in that theft, by taking loans they never returned, some of the perpetrators being close enough to Dodon).

In another development, Igor Dodon increases pressure on the Constitutional Court, because he is angry that CC judges messed up his plans when he was sure of achieving what the Kremlin had demanded from him. However, the Westerners remind him he cannot be a dictator in RM, a country kept afloat by EU, U.S. and Romanian money (uncertain of the Dodon government life expectancy, Budapest forgot about the promised 100 million Euros, and there is the danger that Hungary might pay and receive nothing in exchange).

In Chişinău, all hopes rest with Maia Sandu’s political contribution (Bessarabia still offers patriots, even during treason times) to limit Dodon’s power, without becoming herself a pawn for a revived Plahotniuc. For the rest, resignations: Dodon’s, for failing to deliver RM to Moscow, as he was paid to do, but also Plahotniuc’s resignation for not having RM in his pocket anymore, although he managed to pilfer it big time.

In this context, Ion Chicu’s outburst reveals three things: 1) desperation that Romanian expertise precludes in Brussels any intoxication of the Europeans with Dodonesque lies, such as implementing reforms and fighting corruption; 2) the fabrication of a batch of untruths: along other two ‘Soviet’ countries, Russia and Belarus, RM government failed to significantly reduce the Coronavirus contamination rate. Although that should not be done between RM and Romania, Ion Chicu compared the aftermath of current pandemic between the two countries and he lied: about the contamination case number ratio, which is double in RM, with one in 507 inhabitants, compared to Romania, with one in 1091 inhabitants; about the number of deaths: one death in 14,652 inhabitants in RM, while in Romania there is one in 16,602 inhabitants). When talking about corruption, in Transparency International report, Romania ranks 44, near Hungary, while RM is among the most corrupt countries, ranking 120, after Zambia and Sierra Leone. In addition, Romanian has the most transparent and effective way to fight corruption. Does Ion Chicu imagine how many politicians and officials would escape arrest for corruption under a proper functional anti-corruption system in Chişinău? 3) Ion Chicu shows his true colors: this attitude of hollow and baseless superiority is typical for the punk population in the “power pyramid”. It combines the state level solicitation to the West, Romania included, by these anti-West and anti-Romanian punks (of course, most of gained money is embezzled by these despots, while masses of Bessarabians are only the pretext for extorting the West, respectively Romania) in disdain for those who offer this money. This disdain is topped only by the disdain regarding those whom they should care about: RM citizens, whom Dodon’s government should care about are, in fact, systematically robbed by their government (in full pandemic crisis, Chicu’s economic recovery program was meant to facilitate smuggling schemes). For Romania, this is still another lesson it should consider about the need to aid Bessarabians but avoiding this pseudo-elite destroying its own country.


VI. Developments to track this Week 20 of 2020.

► LIBYA. Turco-Russian tensions. Turkey is directly involved in supporting the Islamist government in Tripoli with warships and drones. The success of government force counter-offensive against General Haftar’s troops has renewed peace efforts, and Russia agreed at the UN on a peace solution. Moscow’s defeat is as humiliating for the Kremlin as Turkish drones hit three Pantsir S anti-aircraft systems  (one of them, captured by government troops, will make the basis for an involuntary Turkish-Russian transfer of technology. Remarkably, an Electronic Warfare (EW) Krasuhka complex was hit too, and this system is the big scarecrow that Moscow was claiming it secures Russia’s supremacy against the West in EW. No wonder that foreign ministers of the two countries reached an understanding for a truce. It is likely just a break, as Haftar tries to annihilate Turkey’s control of the air space by using MiG 29 aircraft (which appeared on an airfield in the East). Turkey is prepared, as it announced it was prepared to fend-off an attack against its forces.

► AFGHANISTAN. The power sharing agreement between President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah is a big step forward. It was about time, as Taliban attacks soared, although the large-scale attacks failed (the attack on Kunduz). The message of NATO Secretary General is eloquent about the Alliance position. U.S. pressure of resuming negotiations between the power and the Taliban is increasing, as Washington’s patience is limited: The Pentagon seeks to bring its soldiers home, as it also discretely does in the Middle East.

► AZERBAIJAN / ARMENIA. Baku conducted large military exercises to which Erevan responded by its own military exercises. The authoritarian regime in Baku might test the ground, while it faces financial shortages, due to the fall in oil and gas price, but also on the backdrop of discontent between Erevan and Moscow (mainly economic disagreements, as the Armenians request a lower price for gas, and the political effect adds up on top of other predicaments, like the trial of former power officials in Armenia, who are strongly pro-Russian).

[1] Stunningly, although us, the Europeans, have so much in common (beyond hatred and the wars that marked our common history), only fear was the incentive leading to decisive steps in European construction: 1) France proposed the Coal and Steel Union for fear of a reborning and perhaps dominating Western Germany; 2) France accepted a reunited Germany, on its path to economic domination of Europe by introducing the Euro currency; 3) the fear of financial collapse and Greece’s exit from the EU led to sustainability criteria and programs in the European financial system; 4) the fear of a repeated Brexit led to political and economic measures of consolidating the European construction, which faces the danger raised by anti-Europeans (profiteers eager to swallow European money without behaving as… Europeans); 5) now, the fear of financial collapse of southern Europeans, especially Italy, leads to commitment on a common European loan; It is true, it is the Germans to pay, but they also gain, by having Europe built around Germany, or, more precisely, around the Franco-German tandem (to be joined by Italy after it becomes bankable, and Poland, after it becomes more… European. Discretely, Spain is also close to the tandem. Although bluntly put, yet true, the “frugal quartet” is there, by Germany). Funny enough, there is the ‘Hitler indicator’ which helps to identify the European problems solved by Germany led by Angela Merkel: when Germany not only pays, but reins the political elites who undermine their own countries, the ‘Hitler’ moniker appears to refer to Angela Merkel. Let us recap: 1) when Germany saved Greece by demanding tough yet healthy financial measures which saved this country from collapse; 2) when Cyprus was held accountable for tolerating ‘legalized’ financial crime (especially recycling Russian suspicious capital), and the financial system was saved; 3) when Italy had its eyes opened and Rome saw it was steering towards bankruptcy, Italy had to admit that, in exchange for the money coming to its rescue, and Italy must implement reforms; 4) when Malta saw corruption as high as seeing a journalist killed for revealing facts about high level corruption covered by state institution officials. Therefore, there should be no surprise which country will be the next to apply the ‘Hitler indicator’ when Germany is forced to put its foot down there too, and make order both in democracy and finance (in fact, it would be the opposite of a true Hitler-type dictatorship policy, since democracy gets saved). There are a couple of such countries around.

[2] Macron’s party, En Marche, lost majority in the Parliament, after a group of deputies left to form a separate centre-left political grouping. However, En Marche can achieve majority by rallying several groups in the parliament. Eventually, the outcome is positive for France, where the En Marche loses political monopoly, as Macron’s party used to cover almost the whole political spectre, from centre-right to centre-left, with the danger of having only the French far-right for alternative.

[3] Russia also responded by flights of other two Tu 142 in the Pacific region, but there the demonstration was purely theoretical, as the United States opposed F22 stealth aircraft, which can intercept Russian airplane flights… without those being aware of F 22 presence (avoiding visual observation by positioning in the blind spot, as an Iranian fighter experienced: it only found out about the American F 22 fighter being around when the U.S. aircraft communicated “Go home!”).

[4] The outside look of Kh 32 is the same as Kh 22, although the former benefits substantial improvements (sensors, ECCM features). It is worth mentioning that Russian media had previously published information about tests being conducted for a new hypersonic missile mounted on Tu-22M3 modernized aircraft (the Tu-22 M3M). The report might have referred to the Kinzhal hypersonic missile, or, more likely, the Kh 32, considering that Kh 32 boasts about remarkable performance: it is allegedly able to reach 4.6 kilometres/second on the end course downwards, attacking the target from above, on a vertical direction, thus exploiting the dead cone of classical naval radars. The Kh 32 is said to achieve that when launched from high altitudes, even 40,000 metres.