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Defense Minister Sturza: Moldova could host a joint military exercise with NATO

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Moldovan Defense Minister Eugen Sturza declared that he had talks with the North Atlantic Alliance on behalf of the organization of a joint military exercise on the territory of the Republic of Moldova. The exercise could take place at Bulboaca Training Center. The statement was made at the TV show “Fabrika” at Publika TV, IPN reports.

Eugen Sturza believes that the Bulboaca Center is becoming an ultramodern center with state-of-the-art application infrastructure and that the Moldovan participation in military exercises is massive.

Source: army.md

“The Republic of Moldova did not host exercises in 2004 and this would be an important step for the country,” the minister said.

The official says he is having talks with development partners in order to extend geographically military participation and to make Moldovan soldiers interoperable with other country’s military.

According to him, it’s necessary for Moldovan soldiers to gain experience from the states that participated in armed conflicts.

“We have no need to accumulate this experience but through our joint exercises,” the defense minister said.

Security

The National Army neutralized about 400 explosive objects in 2018

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The National Army geniuses have detected and neutralized, during the year 2018, about 400 explosive objects across the country.

According to the head of the Genius Service, lieutenant-colonel Adrian Efros, the army’s geniuses executed more than 170 missions, during which they dismantled 392 ammunition.

Most explosive objects – mine bombs, different caliber artillery missiles, aviation bombs, cartridges, and hand grenades – have been discovered in the localities of the Anenii Noi, Causeni, Criuleni, Hincesti districts and in the Balti and Chisinau municipalities.

Lieutenant Colonel Efros specified that the largest amount of ammunition – 66 bombs from the thrower, a caliber of 120 mm, was discovered in November on an arable field in the village of Mingir, Hincesti district.

Explosive objects were destroyed by the detonation team of the Gendarmerie Battalion, led by platoon Eugen Axenti.

Another 33 explosive objects were detected and neutralized by military geniuses in July, in the forest near Delacău village in Anenii Noi district.

At the same time, in April, a team of geniuses, led by Lieutenant Major Ivan Cornegruta, travelled to the forest near the village of Plop-Ştiubei, Causeni district.

Following the field research, the military identified 24 explosive objects – 45 mm guns with cartridge tubes, antitank mine, and RGD-33 hand grenades.

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Security

The new border crossing point at Palanca was put into operation

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Yesterday, the Palanca border crossing point operated jointly by customs and border guards from the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine was put into operation.

Thus, persons crossing the Moldovan-Ukrainian border through the “Palanca-Mayaki-Udobnoie” border crossing point will be subject to a single control and the waiting time in customs will be considerably reduced.

With an investment of EUR 4.5 million from the European Union and EUR 1.68 million from the Government of the Republic of Moldova, the crossing point was built on the basis of a project implemented by the United Nations Development Program.

Citizens will not stay in line for hours, and border guards and border guards will be able to process 2 times more cars than before.

“This crossing point, built according to European standards, brings us closer to Europe and comes first to the benefit of those who will cross the border. We have managed to build modern infrastructure here. At the same time, we are talking about better working conditions for the Border and Customs Police employees,” said Pavel Filip.

In turn, President Petro Poroshenko noted the importance of joint projects and the unification of efforts in the European aspirations of the two countries.

“Today’s event is an example of unity – only by joint effort have we been able to ensure a high level of security and stability in the region,” the President of Ukraine stressed.

Currently, joint control is applied at six crossing points: “Criva-Mamaliga”, “Larga-Kelmen”, “Briceni-Rossoşan”, “Giurgiulesti-Reni”, “Cuciurgan-Pervomaisc” and “Palanca-Maiaki-Udobnoe”.

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Opinion

“The conflict in the Sea of Azov represents a reason to worry for Moldova” The crisis overview and the experts’ opinion

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A dangerous new crisis between Russia and Ukraine began after Russia seized 3 Ukrainian naval ships on Sunday morning, preventing them to enter the Kerch Strait – a narrow strip of water that links the Black and Azov seas and holds strategic importance for both countries.

According to the Ukrainian navy cited in the international media, a Russian vessel bumped into a Ukrainian tugboat Yany Kapu. Along with Berdiansk and Nikopol gunboats, it was transiting from Odessa to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. The Russian vessel opened fire and wounded several sailors. The tugboat Yany Kapu and the gunboat Berdiansk were disabled by the Russian forces and the undamaged Nikopol was taken under control. Russia sent two combat helicopters to the location of the incident, as reported by the Ukrainian Navy. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry declares in a statement that Russia acted “aggressively” and “illegally used force against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy.”

The office of the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko qualified the Russian action against the Ukrainian navy ships as “an act of aggression aimed at deliberately escalating the situation in the waters of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.” It also called for international condemnation of Moscow and the imposition of new sanctions. “We consider such actions categorically unacceptable and this aggression has already led to consequences,” said Petro Poroshenko.

On the other hand, the Russian FSB security service states that the border patrol boats captured the Ukrainian naval vessels by using weapons. The FSB declared it was forced to take action as the Ukrainian boats illegally entered its territorial waters and ignored warnings to stop, according to the news agency TASS. “Weapons were used with the aim of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships,” the FSB said. The Russian media speculates that the incident in the Kerch Strait was a conspiracy between the U.S. and Ukrainian authorities for endangering the upcoming meeting between the U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit.

Source: Twitter

As a response to the crisis, Russia temporarily blocked the passage to the Kerch Strait by placing a tanker in the waters under a bridge controlled by Russians. The access way was reopened for the civilian ships only, according to TASS.

The conflict seems to escalate even more as on Monday the Ukrainian lawmakers voted, at the initiative of the country’s president Petro Poroshenko, to declare martial law in 10 regions of Ukraine for a term of 30 days, starting in the morning of November 28th. The martial law also specifies that the election of President of Ukraine was set to March 31st, 2019.

International community

European Union and NATO support the Ukraine sovereignty and its territorial integrity and calls on Russia “to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea,” as Oana Lungescu, the spokesperson of NATO, declares in a statement to CNN. At the same time, Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs urged Ukraine and Russia “to refrain from any ratcheting up of actions or rhetoric,” as UN News reports. “[We] remind both [Russia and Ukraine] of the need to contain this incident so as to prevent a serious escalation that may have unforeseen consequences,” she said.

Source: UN News

Several European states, including Romania and Republic of Moldova expressed their concern regarding the development of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait conflict. “Aggression & violation of international law undermine the security of the whole region,” declares the service of the Romanian Ministry of External Affairs. The Moldovan Ministry of External Affairs and European Integration expressed its “profound concern” regarding the occurring events as well. “We firmly blame any acts of aggression and provocation that undermine the regional security,” the ministry said. Both Romanian and Moldovan Ministries support “the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and its rights to use its territorial waters.”

Experts’ opinion

Rosian Vasiloi, the IDIS “Viitorul” expert in security policies, qualifies the Ukrainian actions of transferring its vessels through the Kerch Strait as “not illegal,” taking into consideration the previous agreements between Russia and Ukraine. Whereas the Russian actions “are a flagrant violation of the established agreements, Kremlin trying to set new game rules in the Black and Azov seas and maintaining the position that those are territorial waters under the Russian control,” says Vasiloi.

He considers that the main objectives of the Russian actions is to discourage assistance and support from the European institutions to Ukraine in the defence and security sector, to hinder the intention of joining NATO, as well as convincing the Ukrainian citizens about the weakness of the Navy Forces and promoting the propagandist messages in the context of future Ukrainian elections.

Rosian Vasiloi expresses his expectations concerning a tough reaction from the international community, as tolerating such actions from the Russian side “is way too much.”

“I expect that the Ukrainian authorities and the EU institutions would concentrate their forces for promoting policies and measures that would sanction a possible Russia’s aggression against its neighbouring state.”

The Republic of Moldova should align to these sanctions, considers Vasiloi. “The eventual war declaration from the Russian side is not a thing to be ignored. The risks for the Republic of Moldova are high, taking into consideration the presence of Russian troops on the Moldovan territory. Therefore, a clear reaction and concrete measures from Moldovan side regarding this subject is needed.”

Denis Cenușă, the associated expert at Expert-Grup, considers that the development of the Kerch Strait conflict “will largely depend on the international community’s response.” The actions and decisions of UN, NATO and EU international organizations, as well as the position of individual countries such as the US, Germany, France and the UK, will determine the Moscow’s further steps.

“Taking into account the previous reactions of the international community to Russian aggression (Crime annexation, military action in Donbass, civilian plane MH17 crash, etc.), there is a low probability that other measures than economic and individual sanctions can stop the Russian Federation,” says Cenușă. On the other hand, he mentions that such measures may be followed by reactions of the Russian Federation, including shortening natural gas supplies, reactivating the crisis in Syria, extending economic sanctions, or triggering hybrid activities in countries vulnerable to populist movements.

“The fact that for Putin’s regime the military agenda prevails over diplomacy and “soft power” confirms an alarming direction that the Russian Federation is taking by rejecting international law and bilateral agreements.” This shows that the reformist segments of the Russian society are incapable of sanctioning Putin’s authoritarian regime, whose foreign policy is wholly dominated by militaristic visions, according to Cenușă.

Regarding the conflicting information that appeared in the Russian and Ukrainian media, the expert notices that the Russian Federation is interested in exposing the events in a way it suits. “In the last two decades, the Russian crisis situations have always been misinterpreted by the pro-government press and Russian officials. Therefore, there are no reasons to trust the statements made in the Russian media this time.”

On the background of the information mismatch, one can see what the intentions of the Russian Federation are. First, Cenușă states that Russia uses military atrocities against Ukrainian ships to discredit Petr Poroshenko’s presidency in the context of the presidential election, in which Moscow relies on the candidacy of Yulia Tymoshenko. Second, Moscow wants to flood the national and international public space with the idea that the Azov Sea is treated as a Russian internal geographical area, although in reality this area belongs to Ukraine or it is shared with Ukraine. “So, we are witnessing a new act of legitimizing the illegal integration of Crimea into the Russian territory.” Third, a new trend of expanding the Russian aggression from the earth to the sea can be observed. If in the Donbass region, Moscow claimed that the problem is in the separatist forces, which it can somehow masquerade, then in the waters of the Azov Sea this trend comes to the foreground, regardless of the misinformation angle.

Concerning the possible influence of the conflict in the region, particularly for Moldova, Cenușă points out the opinion of the international military experts suggesting that Russia is capable of anything.

“In a way, we are faced with a security and geopolitical reality easily disputed by Moscow whenever it deems necessary and neglecting any existing diplomatic framework. This represents a reason to worry, as Moldova has Russian military forces stationed in the Transnistrian region, low military training, lack of any solid strategic vision, and a local political context fragile or tolerant of Russian interference.”

The conflict backgrounds

Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, an act that is not legally recognized by the international community, and a war with the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, these two countries have been locked in a continuous conflict. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been steadily escalating in recent months.

For example, last month, the conflict extended into the area of religion when the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially broke free from Moscow’s control. Besides, Ukraine and the United States have been accusing Russia of interfering with international shipping in and out of the Kerch Strait for some months now.

Featured image source: CNN

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