04 September 2018

MAIN POLITICAL AND MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS - WEEK 35

Monitorul Apărării şi Securităţii

Image source: Mediafax

MAIN POLITICAL AND MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS

WEEK 35

 

I). UKRAINE. The Assassination of a Separatist Leader Might Lead to an Escalation of the Conflict.  

II) RUSSIA. Domestic Economic Hurdles, yet the Same Foreign Policy.

III) SYRIA. Idlib Shows Symptoms of a Future Tragedy and of a New East vs. West Confrontation.

IV) EUROPEAN UNION. A Far Right Axis Proposes a European Program with Little Chances of Success.

V) REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. Brutal Intervention against the Romanian Participants in the Centennial March to Chişinău.

 

I). UKRAINE. The Assassination of a Separatist Leader Might Lead to an Escalation of the Conflict.   

On August 31st, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the most important separatist leader in Donbas, and prime-minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Popular Republic (DNR), has been killed in bomb attack, at a coffee bar in Donetsk[1]. The DNR authorities announced that the perpetrators have been arrested, and accused the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) of organizing the assassination[2]. SBU denied any responsibility and launched the hypothesis that the attack was committed by A. Zakharchenko’s rivals or by the Russian secret agencies, interested in taking out a troublesome individual.

However, the incident increased the danger of conflict escalation in Donbas: the Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, declared that Zakharchenko’s death was a provocation which would have very negative consequences upon the situation in the region and would lead to an increase in the tensions, thus rendering the implementation of Minsk II Agreements impossible. Very likely, those who organized the attack were interested in both eliminating A. Zakharchenko and the worsening of the situation in Donbas, as the latter would be a logic consequence of the former. Ukraine and Russia accused each other for the attack, in the attempt to use it for its own benefit. It looks like all tracks are valid, and possible suspects for the assassination are Ukraine, Russia, or Zakharchenko’s rivals in Donbas, who are competitors in the race to grab the businesses and properties in the separatist region[3].

Ukraine was interested in A. Zakharchenko’s elimination because he was a dangerous political and military leader, having been extremely brutal with the Ukrainian soldiers taken prisoners. But Ukraine is hardly likely to use bomb attacks and is not interested in an escalation of the conflict right now, when the situation includes the following developments: the situation in the Azov Sea became critical; the negotiations in Normandy format did not deliver either cease-fire or military disengagement; and the Ukrainian military is struggling to diminish its shortcomings, i.e. its naval, air and air defense forces are desperately working to operationalize assets able to balance the Russian naval and air supremacy. As a matter of fact, even the US representative in the Donbas conflict resolution, Kurt Volker, stated, on September 1st, that Washington would expand the delivery of armament to Ukraine[4].

DNR accused Ukraine for mobilizing its forces, aiming to attack the separatist region on September 14th. But such operation is unlikely to occur. The Ukrainian forces alert is quite normal and necessary though, considering the Kremlin’s reaction to Zakharchenko’s assassination and the Russian armored vehicle deployment noticed lately. It is hard to believe that Ukraine would prepare an offensive right now; why would it? Just to provide Moscow with the opportunity to smash Kyiv’s armed forces, as President Vladimir Putin had threatened just before Minsk II Agreements were signed?[5] It also happens that the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, who was visiting Washington this week 35, took the opportunity to obtain the US support for the implementation of Minsk II Agreements – of course, the military part, i.e. the disengagement.

Russia would also be interested in having Zakharchenko out of the picture, for two reasons: first, the separatist leader became too independent, he knew too much and became a liability[6]; and second, the Kremlin could use a subsequent critical situation to postpone the military disengagement and the deployment of peace-keeping forces, both insistently requested by Germany and France. This tense situation would also postpone the referendum in Donbas, which was promised by President Trump to President Putin in Helsinki. But this can only happen after the new tensions between Washington and Moscow subside. Actually, on September 1st, Sergey Lavrov announced that Zakharchenko’s assassination stops the negotiations in Normandy format. Quite convenient! However, Russia could have reached the same result by using just the increasing tensions in the Azov[7] Sea, given the complications caused by the present and perspective sanctions. It is worth mentioning that the US had warned Russia, on August 31st, regarding the hampering of maritime traffic in the Azov Sea, by constantly harassing the Ukrainian ships.

Interestingly enough, the provisional presidency of DNR was taken not by another military leader, but by a politician, Dmitry Trapeznikov, the vice-president of the DNR council of ministers (that would be a deputy prime-minister). He immediately promised he would continue the integration policy and pointed out that the end state is… the annexation of the separatist region by Russia.

The third hypothesis, that the assassination was the result of a local dispute, as most of the separatist leaders are adventurers used by the Russian secret services, FSB and GRU, which are rivals in the genesis and management of separatist entities, wherever such constructions are decided by the Kremlin. Involved in murders, trafficking and real estate crime, the separatist leaders are caught in a perpetual fight, having the Kremlin as umpire. Two indications support such course of action: first, the DNR has temporarily closed its borderline with Russia; and second, both DNR and the other neighboring separatist self-proclaimed republic, the Luhansk Popular Republic, have raised the DEFCON of their forces, although it is well known that not the separatist leaders can order a real operation, but only the Kremlin.

Most likely, the originators of the assassination will not be identified, but the way the investigation progresses will point to the real perpetrator: should the investigation continue, and the DNR authorities really seek evidence, the suspicion tilts towards the Ukrainians; but should the investigation peter out, the suspicion heavily tilts toward Russia or the local mobsters. However, at that time, nobody will be interested in Zakharchenko’s death, as both sides would have worked hard to use the attack in its own interest, and future events will dwarf the incident.  

Bottom line, by executing a separatist leader, the situation in Donbas became critical and, should either side consider this is a good opportunity to attack (especially Russia), it would do it. But Russia might consider that the Ukrainian adventure already costs too much, and will refrain from starting an offensive: Moscow gained Crimea, but it lost Ukraine, at least for the moment. In addition, besides the strong international reactions against Russia’s aggression, this adventure brought an unexpectedly high economic and foreign policy cost. As an injection of complexity, Zakharchenco’s death might be used by Moscow to drive the events towards the political direction within the Minsk II Agreement, after saber rattling. In the likely event that intense fights will not start in Donbas, the next milestones to be watched soon are the attempt by Germany and France to put the Minsk II process back on tracks (Angela Merkel will visit Kyiv in November), and new ripples after a possible new Trump – Putin meeting.

II) RUSSIA. Domestic Economic Hurdles, yet the Same Foreign Policy.  

Facing retired public service employees’ discontent, Vladimir Putin offered concessions

Worried of the size of social reaction against the bill meant to raise the retirement age, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, stepped in, on August 29th, with a small concession regarding the retirement age for women. He mentioned the “caring” attitude towards women as being traditional in Russia. However, it is worth mentioning that women about the age of retirement make an important constituency[8], which constantly votes for the power. V. Putin decided a decrease in retirement age for women from 63 to 60, with a supplemental reduction to 57 years old for women having three children or more (which adds a demographic stimulus). So, the increase of retirement age will be five years, same as for men[9].

Although the present economic and social conditions in Russia request an increase of the retirement age, the bill was a real shock in the Russian society, especially among the elderly, who constantly vote with the power, being interested only in preserving a minimal living standard. Considering the life expectancy in Russia, especially for men, many government employees will never get to the retirement age. It is interesting though, that President Putin made a move, and how he intervened in the issue: he explained that Russia risks facing ample financial consequences should the retirement age remain unchanged. He also pointed to measures meant to reduce the impact of the law. So, the economy, forever dissident, woke up to reality both the Kremlin and the population. Putin’s proposals, which will be rubber-stamped verbatim by a puppet State Duma (the parliament), will not reduce the social discontent, but it is unlikely that a massive social reaction occurs. Although displeased, the Russians will not challenge the power and the way it runs the country. Fear of chaos, total control of the society by the power, but also the aggressive propaganda, will likely be stronger than the population indignation regarding the direction the budget goes: towards military adventure and the pockets of the corrupt power. However, the power cannot be insensitive to the trend in society, and will likely become more prudent in its aggressive actions with serious economic impact, because the population seems to draw a line to the toleration of economic costs of the power’s domestic and foreign policies. But first, Moscow needs to conclude the adventures in Ukraine and Syria in its advantage. And here lies the problem: things get more complicated in both cases, especially from the perspective of relations with the United States.

 

In Ukraine, Russia is about to lose its major spiritual and ideological asset, which it used throughout its expansion in the former Soviet subcontinent and beyond: the Russian Orthodox Church. It happened that Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, accepted an Autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church, independent from the Russian Orthodox Church. Moscow attempted to prevent that, by a visit paid by the Russian Patriarch, Kirill, to Istanbul, on August 31st, but the result was negative. Kyiv celebrated this victory worth more than the three Russian armies threatening its borders[10]. The Kremlin’s reaction was to challenge the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople “primus inter pares” (first among equals), as Moscow is about to put pressure on the other orthodox churches in order to obtain the non-recognition of an Autocephalous Ukrainian Church.

The recognition of an Autocephalous Ukrainian Church will not only strengthen Ukrainian sovereignty and independence, but will also impact upon Russia, because the Russian Patriarchy claims the status of spiritual heritage of the historical Kyiv Russ, the spiritual basis of the Russian empire and part of the present days Kremlin’s ideology. The battle will be tough, but the step made by Patriarch Bartholomew, to accept the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church, is crucial. The Greek Orthodox Church, having no other patriarch but the one in Constantinople, will accept the Bartholomew’s decision, while the Serbian and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches will probably side with Moscow. Considering the Romanian national interests, to have a sovereign neighboring Ukraine, but also a sovereign and closer Republic of Moldova (speaking actually about the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia), our spiritual fathers will hopefully tread the good path for our nation and the neighbors.

 

Also on Ukraine, Russia’s relations with the US went south since John Bolton, after the meeting with Nikolay Patrushev in Geneva, presented in Kyiv, on August 28th, the traditional American positions, having nothing to do with Russian expectations born during the Trump – Putin meeting in Helsinki. After visiting the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, John Bolton declared that the sanctions against Russia stand until Russia will change its behavior. He added that he had informed the Ukrainian president about the warning sent to Russia, “in several different meetings”, not to meddle in American elections, but not in the Ukrainian (2019 presidential) elections either, nor in other countries. John Bolton touched even the topic of Ukraine’s integration into NATO, a pure blasphemy from a Russian point of view. J. Bolton stated that Kyiv made progress in its efforts to join NATO, but there is much to do yet. The language is classic for encouragement of nations with no real chance, but only mentioning the topic means a foreign policy failure for Moscow. J. Bolton also discussed energy issues, encouraging Ukraine to seek alternative sources of gas (LNG from the States? This would be too expensive, while the Romanian gas is only a pipeline away!), and also mentioned that the US opposes Nord Stream 2 pipeline[11]. But Russia’s problems with the US became critical in another issue, the Syrian conflict (see topic III).

 

In the air space of the Black Sea, in its relations with NATO, Russia stepped from the arrogance of showing air supremacy to victimization. On August 25th, two British Typhoon aircraft, which took off from Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base, eastern Romania, intercepted two Russian aircraft – one anti-submarine Be-12, and one transport An-26. A RAF pilot communicated that “We launched both QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) aircraft to counter an incursion into the Romanian airspace from the East over the Black Sea by a suspected Russian aircraft. We were able to intercept and identify it as a Russian An-26 CURL and escorted it clear of the Romanian airspace.” Describing the separate and second incursion by the Be-12, the RAF pilot added: “The first response was immediately followed by another suspected Russian aircraft over the Black Sea. Both Typhoons escorted it clear of Romanian airspace, the whole event was conducted safely and professionally on both sides.” So, the British jets also made visual identification of the Russian aircraft.

Moscow reacted by a twitter posted by the Russian Embassy in London. In this twitter, Moscow states that the British fighters conducted a dangerous and provocative interception of the Russian aircraft, with the intention to provoke Russia. However, the pictures show otherwise! The statement continues with accusations, as well as rhetoric and pejorative questions: “... What kind of threat to Britain or even its allies does a Russian patrol aircraft hypothetically pose while conducting flights near Russia’s own coastline, more than 2,000 km (1242.74 miles) from the British Isles”, and “Instead of strengthening anyone’s security, the British authorities are using such a military presence (in the Black Sea area) for provocative actions. Not just by making verbal statements, regrettable as they are, but also in real military terms, which is simply dangerous”. However, the Russian flights occurred within the responsibility area of the Romanian / NATO air controllers, and most likely, did not have the transponders activated! The Russian embassy in London also forgets that, not long ago, Moscow reproached the same pilots that they had not made the visual identification of the Russian aircraft which, same as this time, were flying towards the Romanian / NATO littoral, far from the Crimean coast (which, according to international laws, is not Russia). So, from arrogance straight to victimization: you did not react – you are weak; you did react – you are provocative.

Nevertheless, the aircraft flying in the NATO responsibility air space of the Black Sea, without active transponders, are Russian. Is this not called provocation? This game will continue for as long as Russia wants to be aggressive towards NATO, towards Romania respectively, but NATO / British experience and Romanian thoughtfulness will find a balanced and non-provocative response to such provocative actions.

 

III. SYRIA. Idlib Shows Symptoms of a Future Tragedy and of a New East vs. West Confrontation.

Everything began when Bashar al-Assad declared he wanted to re-conquer Idlib, the last province still controlled by the Sunni rebels (among which is al-Nusra, having connections with al-Qaida), after the negotiations with them failed. B. al-Assad benefits from Russia and Iran’s political and military support, but also from the tacit and limited accord of Turkey. This last support was acquired through the agreement reached during the Russo-Turkish discussions. Sergey Lavrov mentioned this agreement, but did not provide any detail. As United Nations officials pointed out, such attack by the Syrian forces against the Sunni in Idlib would cause a humanitarian catastrophe, a large number of civilian victims and a new wave of refugees.

The western democracies, US included, reacted to the perspective of such humanitarian catastrophe, especially considering the information regarding the possible use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad troops. It has also been learned that, during the meeting in Geneva, on August 23rd, John Bolton told Nikolay Patrushev that Washington would not tolerate any use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad, and would react by attacking military facilities of the Syrian regime[12]. Russia’s reaction was threefold: military, diplomatic, and propagandistic.

Russia’s military reaction includes the strengthening of its Navy group in the Mediterranean Sea. There, Moscow rallied the largest number of warships, including submarines, Russia ever held in the area, rivaling that once deployed by the Soviet Union: on August 25th, the naval group included two Kilo II  submarines, a battleship, two destroyers, three frigates, three corvettes and numerous logistic vessels and tugs, as well as a special submarine support vessel – an indication that Moscow deploys also nuclear submarines; unconfirmed information maintains that a number of Russian nuclear submarines entered the Mediterranean through the Gibraltar Strait. However, this can also be just disinformation. Very likely, these warships would form an advanced disposition meant to detect and identify any cruise missile that might be launched by western military towards Syrian governmental and military targets. They would alert the surveillance radars, which are to lock on the missiles and transfer them to the fire-control radars of the S-400 anti-aircraft systems, and other such assets deployed by Russia in Syria. Should such events occur, the Russian military leaders hope to intercept as many missiles as possible, in order to prove that the West does not possess the military capability to significantly intervene in Syria. During the last cruise missile attack, the Syrian but also the Russian anti-aircraft defense did not intercept any cruise missile, although the Russian propaganda hit them all…

On the other hand, using the pretext of naval exercises, Russia closed five large maritime areas in eastern Mediterranean Sea, from September 3rd to September 9th, thus drastically limiting the freedom of maneuver of western vessels. Moscow notified anti-submarine exercises, anti-aircraft exercises and missile launches... Remarkably, the Russian TU-160 strategic bomber will also take part in the exercises, among 30 jets. Presently, the visible western presence in the area is limited (no US aircraft carrier naval group), but, very likely, the US and other western powers deploy their nuclear submarines as well (capable of launching cruise missiles) towards eastern Mediterranean Sea.

As a propaganda reaction, the Russian ministries of defense and foreign affairs accused rebel groups in Idlib of preparing a provocation by executing chemical attacks to be later attributed to government troops. It is hard to believe that the rebels have the capacity to produce, store, and use chemical weapons, while the al-Assad regime certainly has this capability. Even the deployment of helicopters is an indication which, added to other information, indicate the possibility of a future attack. Russia also accused the West of intending to utilize such provocations as a pretext to attack Syrian governmental targets.

In the diplomatic field, Russia accused the West of intending to attack Syria again, in support of the “terrorists” (Bashar al-Assad and Russia assign this attribute to the whole Sunni opposition). The Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, declared, on August 25th, that “we warn the Americans and their allies against taking new reckless steps in Syria”. Then, on August 30th, Sergey Lavrov warned the West not to “play with fire” regarding Idlib, pointing out that “It's well known that the progress of Syrian resolution, humanitarian solutions and fight against terrorism is not to everyone's liking". Lavrov added that a well-known group of unarmed voluntary rescue workers, the White Helmets, were preparing to stage a chemical strike meant to be blamed on the Syrian government troops. S. Lavrov specified that the Syrian government has every right to push rebels out of Idlib, including an estimated 10,000 fighters in an Al-Qaeda affiliated group that is believed to be the dominant rebel force in the province. The American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, reacted on August 31st, warning that "Sergey Lavrov is defending Syrian and Russian assault on Idlib. The Russians and Assad agreed not to permit this. The U.S sees this as an escalation of an already dangerous conflict".

Let’s recap: Bashar al-Assad and Russia are preparing an attack on Idlib, probably for the timeframe September 04 – 08. The US warns about intelligence regarding Bashar’s future use of chemical weapons (quite likely, considering his history, as well as the fact that he has not enough soldiers and he does not want to lose any of them, but also the fact that he considers the Sunni as terrorists, who need to be exterminated). Russia says that the rebels will put in place a provocation, and the West will use it as pretext to attack the Syrian regime. The US responds by reminding the agreement with Russia that Bashar would not attack Idlib, and Washington feels betrayed by Russia. Moscow answers that Bashar, supported by Russian air forces, has the right to eliminate the rebels, thus breaching its promise. Now the US is harvesting the fruits of compromise: considering Israel’s security, Washington probably negotiated to trade the rebels in the south in exchange for the withdrawal of Iranian troops and Hezbollah militias from the Golan Heights, as result of Russian authority over Iran. Meanwhile, in the north, Turkey negotiated Idlib, but now Russia and Bashar al-Assad breach their promise to spare this region. In addition, the US has two approaches in Syria (that of President Donald Trump, appeasing towards the Kremlin, and the traditional policy, implemented by his Administration), yet no clear goal (apart from the objective to eliminate ISIS and to cut the Iranian corridor). Maybe President Trump, caught in his problems and constraint by domestic pressure to be less appeasing with Russia, allowed the conservative members of his Administration to pursue a tougher course towards Russia. In addition, D. Trump never tolerated the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad (although it seems that, in Helsinki, he agreed to Russia’s request to accept B. al-Assad as a recognized leader of Syria).

As a conclusion, we reached a major tension between the US and Russia, none of them being open to compromise. It would be nice to see all diplomatic and military actions proving to be just a game meant to dissuade the adversary, and, eventually, to see a solution for Idlib. But what if Russia pushes forward and allows Bashar to trigger the offensive? And what if the West attacks instead? And what if, in the waters of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a mutual harassing among warships and submarines leads to an accident? It seems that out of the blue, a major crisis with unpredictable results surfaced. However, in reality, this is the result of a civil war of unprecedented cruelty, the result of the intervention of regional powers, of Russia’s aggressive policy, and of the US’s “no responsibility” policy, as Washington ceased to perform the role of the “world’s policeman”, or the Middle East’s now. As for the Europeans, their military and political-diplomatic relevance / limits are easy to be noticed here.

 

IV. EUROPEAN UNION. A Far Right Axis Proposes a European Program with Little Chances of Success.

 

The Hungarian Prime-Minister Viktor Orbán met on August 28th (in Milan) the Italian Minister of Internal Affairs Matteo Salvini, who is also the leader of the Italian extreme right party La Lega, to put forward for consideration a “zero tolerance” plan for migration: the hermetic seal of the EU borders for any migrants. This true “European illiberalism” plan has come about while a new scandal concerning the migrants is in full swing: again, the migrants rescued by an Italian Navy ship were not allowed by the Italian Government to leave the vessel. There were tensions between the Italian government and Brussels even prior to that: Italy threatened to stop its contribution to EU common fund since it did not receive any support for the migrants’ distribution. The two leaders suggest: changes in the European Treaty; the naval rescue missions canceled; the migration put to an end; and a “sovereign states alliance” to be established. The parties belonging to the left and the center of the Italian political spectrum organized a protest meeting and conveyed to the Hungarian leader that he is not welcomed in Milan. The public opinion questioned Matteo Salvini’s official capacity to meet Viktor Orbán, as well as the latter’s capacity to propound to Italy a crusade against Brussels, since Hungary does not show any solidarity with Italy when it comes to the migrants’ distribution.  

The plan introduced by Viktor Orbán is just propaganda, since Hungary lacks the ability to put in place such an arrangement in Europe. Moreover, even in the Visegrad Four frame the issue is purely theoretical, because there are no migrants in those states whatsoever. Currently, the migrants’ flow, significantly diminished, goes mainly towards Italy and Spain. Italy, in its turn, cannot escalate its divergences with Brussels not only for that it is not a net contributor to the European budget, but on top of that, it gets back all the money it transfers to EU budget, as the European Commissioner Öttinger recently reminded the Italian government. On the other hand, the Italian budget deficit, a real issue for the government in Rome, is to be discussed very soon. It is foreseen that the budget deficit is going to exceed the 3% threshold, as the Italian populist government tries to accomplish at least some of the electoral promises it made. Besides, the French president, Emanuel Macron, stated that a comprehensive and ready to be carried out solution for the migration problem can be conceived only at the European level and leaning on European values and legislation, as opposed to some unclear constructions. Emanuel Macron has thus replied the two leaders as they had identified him as the tolerant liberal towards migration, whilst he was just trying to solve a French and European problem only by legal means.

The true color of the migration problem is noticeable in Chemnitz (Germany), where the far-right organizations initiated a series of large rallies - backed up by the local population to some extent - after a crime was allegedly committed by a migrant. A major concern arises from the analogy with the past, apart from the regional specificity (the “red” intolerance stemming from the former GDR has become “green”). In the very economic and political heart of the EU, i.e. the democratic and prosperous Germany, circumstances for extremism are slowly building up: the emergence of a problem unsolved by the politicians across the whole political spectrum (i.e. the migration), the far-right movements asking for radical measures to be implemented, a growing support from the majority of the population and the leniency, no matter how minor, showed by a part of the political and economic elite.

Certainly, Germany would be able to come up with an answer. It might come from the slight movement of the Christian Democrats towards the right. This could be done by adding judicial rigor to the humanity imbedded in the solution accepted by Angela Merkel for the integration problem of the migrants’ surge. At that moment in time, not only that a more realistic solution will be devised, but the tolerance of the Hungarian “little dictator’s” anti-democratic and anti-European deviations displayed by a part of the German and European elite will vanish away.

As far as Italy is concerned, the signals from economy will be the wake up call to reality for the populists in power. At that step of the process, they will be looking for a close collaboration with Brussels and Berlin, before an economic perspective resembling the Greek crisis opens ahead. If not, the consequences would be of high magnitude as the Italian economy is far greater than the Greek, and it will shake the whole EU, weakened to some extent by a possible no agreement Brexit.

 

V. THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. The Brutal Intervention against the Romanian Partakers in the Centennial March to Chişinău.

 

Three buses heading from Romania to Chişinău and transporting Romanian citizens willing to take part in the Centennial March organized in Chişinău by the unionists from the Republic of Moldova were blocked on their way to the event by the Moldovan Gendarmerie members on September 1st. The travelers, a Romanian Parliament member included, were pushed and shoved around under the excuse that they were blocking the road. The incident blatantly shows the hypocrisy of the “pro-European” and “pro-Romanian” government in Chişinău and of Vlad Plahotniuc’s respectively.

Relatively low supported both in Romania and the Republic of Moldova, the unionist movement, although of a small scale, is very active and visible. For the Romanians, the unionism is more of an idealistic fundament for a very “material and consistent” financial and political support granted to the Republic of Moldova. As for the Moldovan elite, especially for the “state and the party pyramid of power” currently led by Vlad Plahotniuc, the unionism is a danger and an excuse for “defending the statehood”, but only against Romania. The pro-Russian forces are even rougher. Igor Dodon, for instance, declared that the Centennial March is “a shame”. To remember an historical event, no matter how naïve the idea of unification would be[13], is a “shame”, but to betray your country for Russian money it is not. Eventually, the middle-ages Moldovan king Stephen the Great spoke not in Russian, but in the language we all speak, in Romania and in the Republic of Moldova too. This is true irrespective that “comrade Stalin” named it “Moldovan language” during the existence of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova, just aiming to support splitting that territory from Romania.

The problem for Romania is not necessarily a required reaction to the incident (which must not be hasty), but that, in spite of the Moldovan elite who fails its own country, support must be provided for the Moldovan citizens according to the principle “the child must live” as in King Solomon’s parable. Therefore, Romania has to accept the Republic of Moldova’s initiative to prioritize the construction of the gas pipeline linking the two countries. Most likely, and traditionally one could say, the Moldovan government will not pay for the gas, although it will collect all the taxes pertaining to it from the abiding citizens.

 



[1] A second person has also been killed, and other eight have been injured, including Aleksandr Timofeyev, the DNR finance minister.

[2] There is information that a bodyguard of A. Zakharchenko was involved in the attack.

[3] One of the Russian agents with major role in the aggression against Ukraine, Igor Girkin, summarised the possible courses of action as follows: A. Zakharchenko was assassinated either by his associates in illegal dealings, or by those in Kremlin who had enough of him, or by the Ukrainians. A. Zakharchenko had become a liability for all of the above. However, Igor Girkin’s order of suspicion is interesting.

[4] There is new information regarding a future transfer of patrol vessels (probably Island class) from the US Coast Guard to the Ukrainian Navy.

[5] According to the former French president, François Hollande’s memoires, published this past week.

[6] Russia has been suspicioned before of eliminating unconfortable separtist leaders, and they perished in bomb attacks, followed by investigations which led to nowhere.

[7] Kyiv fears that Russia’s naval supremacy, reached by the transfer of warships from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, would allow even a combined attack (from land and from sea) on the Ukrainian strategic port of Mariupol.

[8] The women live longer and are ten million more than the men, i.e. 54% of the population.

[9] Initially, the bill proposed the increase of retirement age to be eight years (to 63) for women, and five years for men (to 65).

[10] Stalin was wrong when saying that the Pope has no value, when asking „how many divisions has the Vatican?”. V. Putin knows that and will do anything to reach his goal. This is why, the Patriarch of Constantinople pays much attention to his personal security!

[11] The US announced it would impose santions against participants to the Nord Stream 2 project which increases Germany’s and Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, and also reduces Ukraine’s role as transit country for the Russian gas. J. Bolton mentioned that the US explained to the Italian Prime-Minister, Giuseppe Conte, that it is more profitable to Italy to rely on Azeri gas through the TAP pipeline. Maybe this explains the Caucasus tour made by the Italian President... and also that of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

[12] Bloomberg released information regarding the contents of the meeting in Geneva: the Russian party asked the Americans to withdraw their troops from a base in south-eastern Syria which controls the communication routes from Iraq, vital for Iran’s corridor towards the Mediterranean Sea. John Bolton did not provide an answer, which explains the recent meeting of military leaders from Russia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. John Bolton insisted that, based on intelligence, the US believe Bashar al-Assad intends to use chemical weapons (Bloomberg also revealed that the US posseses intelligence that B. al-Assad would execute a chemical attack). To such event, the US would react militarily, and there is information that the Pentagon already selected targets to be hit, should Bashar al-Assad use chemical weapons. The US also closely monitors the Russian Navy group deployed to eastern Mediterranean.  

[13] The unification would be a threat to the national security of Romania. The Republic of Moldova is so politically and economically bankrupt and so firmly seized by the organized criminality to all levels, the state level included, that a hypothetic unification would have a high destabilizing potential for an EU and NATO member.