Κυριακή, 30 Μαρτίου 2014

Moldova Faces Russian Pressure Against EU Integration



As the standoff continues between Russia and the West over Ukraine, tensions have grown to encompass Ukraine's neighbor Moldova, which like Ukraine has been making efforts to integrate further with the West. Most recently, Russian military exercises held March 25 in Moldova's breakaway territory of Transdniestria have stoked these tensions. Russia has many economic, political and security levers to employ in Moldova in response to its Western integration efforts, and Russia can use this leverage to destabilize the country, if not derail integration efforts altogether.

Moldova was, after Ukraine, the most logical and likely country to experience a growing competition between Russia and the West over the former Soviet periphery. Moldova has made efforts to build closer ties to the European Union, primarily by working toward signing the EU association and free trade agreements. Moldova initialed these agreements at the November 2013 Vilnius summit, during which former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich rejected the deals, and Moldova is now set to sign the deals in June along with Georgia. The Moldovan government has also supported the Western-backed uprising in Ukraine and has been a strong advocate of the Ukrainian government's ambitions to sign the EU agreements.

Russia has been very concerned with these developments. Like Ukraine, Russia's strategic interests require Moldova to remain a neutral country and not a part of the Western alliance structure. Therefore, Russia will likely work to undermine Moldova's Western integration efforts just as it has been doing in Ukraine, and Moscow has several levers it can use toward this end.

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