We are well aware of Russia’s attempts to destabilize the Republic of Moldova through failed oligarchs and politicians with serious criminal issues who control media-political-economic empires where illegal business, government hijacking and fake news mix into a compound of near-fatal toxicity for a young democracy. For years, the European course of the Republic of Moldova could be parasitized and diverted by means of such corrosive actors. And recently, after the reformist Maia Sandu regime courageously launched – against the backdrop of Russia’s brutal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine – a firm, categorical and anti-Russian pro-European country project, they made continuous efforts to destabilize – through street riots, manipulation campaigns and fake news – the Chisinau regime.
From this point of view, the speed with which the idea of diplomacy from Bucharest – to sanction these toxic actors within the European Union – passed through the phases of proposal-negotiation-operationalization and producing effects is, in relation to the usual pace of international procedures , downright miraculous. The proposal to sanction oligarchs/failed politicians/Kremlin agents of influence in the Republic of Moldova came on February 20, 2023, from the Foreign Minister of Romania, Bogdan Aurescu. Diplomacy from Bucharest managed to convince, in only two months, until April 24, 2023, when a new meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council took place, all European capitals and European institutions to support this initiative. The agreement negotiated by Minister Aurescu was formally finalized on April 28, when the EU adopted the fastest sanctions regime ever created by the Union. According to the system proposed by Romania, the sanctions against those who seek to destabilize the Republic of Moldova aim at bans from entering the country or confiscation of assets/freezing of accounts.
Well, today, just three months after Bucharest launched its proposal, we have a firm announcement from the EU regarding the first sanctions. These target, among others, the oligarch Ilan Șor, involved in the illegal financing of political parties in the Republic of Moldova, the coordination of media manipulation campaigns, incitement to violence against the Chisinau regime, the financing of demonstrations intended to degenerate into acts of provocation, etc. ; alongside him we find names such as Marina Tauber, Vlad Plahotniuc, Igor Ceaika and Gheorghe Cavcaliuc.
The fact that these major instruments of hybrid aggression against the Republic of Moldova lose much of their ability to destabilize the regime in Chisinau will enormously help the resilience of the Republic of Moldova in the context of Russian neo-imperialism, which in Ukraine manifests itself through a traditional, bloody war, and in Moldova through an informational and psychological war, of undermining and manipulation. And a safer Republic of Moldova – like a strong Ukraine, which resists the threats of the Kremlin – represents both gains in itself, from the perspective of international law and universal morality, as well as a guarantee for Romania’s national security: as our flank of the east will be more solid, more freed from the malignant influence of the Putin regime, the more Romania will be safer.
I would also add that the success of the sanctions proposed by Romania for the benefit of the Republic of Moldova could represent a model for the Black Sea region as a whole, as other states here, targeted by Russian destabilization operations, categorically assume, in the manner of the regime from Chisinau, an accelerated process of European integration. As we see in the Republic of Moldova, and in Ukraine, in relation to the blackmail coming from the Kremlin, the solution is firmness and trust in international legal mechanisms.