Connect with us

Opinion

Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Romania at the end of 2018: More Challenges for the United States

Published

on

This opinion piece was written by Dr. Nicholas Dima. Dr. Dima was formerly a Professor of Geography and Geopolitics at Djibouti University, St. Mary’s University College and James Madison University. From 1975 to 1985 and from 1989 to 2001, Dr. Dima was a Writer and Field Reporter at Voice of America. The opinion does not necessarily represent the opinion of the editorial staff of Moldova.org.

***

Two important events are occurring currently in Eastern Europe and they could shape the future of the region and challenge U.S. national security interests. First, a quasi-religious war is shaking the Orthodox Church that may have consequences similar to the great schism which split Christendom in 1044. Second, Romania feels threatened by Russia and is strengthening its alliance with America. Moscow is wary of both evolutions.

After the Russo-Ukrainian war of 2014 and the Russian annexation of Crimea, the conflict between the two countries has been largely frozen. Yet, it has continued to simmer inside Ukraine and is now about to explode in the open. And this time the conflict is spiritual and involves the Orthodox Church.

Most Orthodox Churches are autocephalous (self-governing) and are led by national patriarchs. In turn, they are under the Universal Patriarch of Constantinople, who is considered primus inter pares. Ukraine, however, the second largest Orthodox Church, has never received autocephaly from Constantinople. Historically, Russia, which is the largest Orthodox Church, exercised leadership over all the orthodox people in the east, including Ukrainians and Belarusians. As long as Russia controlled the land, it also assumed spiritual control of the people through the Russian church headquartered in Moscow.

Currently, the Universal Orthodox Patriarchate led by Bartholomew I is about to grant autocephaly to Ukraine. This is dangerous for Moscow because it means an end to its spiritual control over the country and would also encroach greatly on Russia’s political role over the east. As Paul Goble, a researcher of the field, put it… autocephaly for Ukraine is a major defeat for both political and religious reasons… It represents the end of President Vladimir Putin’s dream of a ‘Russian World…’ (Eurasia Daily Monitor, October 16, 2018). In fact, Putin and Moscow were aiming at controlling the entire Orthodox world which extends from the Baltic to the Mediterranean seas. Ukrainian autocephaly would put a firm end to this goal. Besides losing Ukraine, Moscow also risks losing leverage over Belarus and over the ethnic Russian minorities in Moldova and other former Soviet republics.

The Russian Orthodox Church, which has always been an obedient arm of the government, reacted immediately. It broke relations with Constantinople and threatened to anathemize (excommunicate) the Universal Patriarchate. The answer of the Patriarchate was in kind and this marked the beginning of a new stage of a religious conflict. The canonical conflict would split deeply the Orthodox Church and would spill over into politics. Russia is already nervous, is threatening, and is becoming increasingly more aggressive.

The individual Eastern Orthodox Churches are divided on the issue. Canonically, they may align themselves with the Patriarch in Constantinople but politically is a different matter. The Armenians in the Caucasus and the Serbians and Bulgarians in south-east Europe will probably back Russia. That will isolate Romania, which is predominantly Orthodox but is overwhelmingly pro-Western. As for the Western reaction, Washington has already signaled that it will help Ukraine achieve autocephaly. The imminent canonical independence of the Kyiv church may lead to ethnic Russian riots in Ukraine and potentially to another military intervention. And a new conflict will be more widely spread than the previous one and may affect Romania directly.

Romania has canonical and territorial claims over Bessarabia and over other lands held now by Ukraine and Moldova. In the Republic of Moldova, like in Ukraine, the orthodox churches are split. Some belong to the Romanian Patriarchate in Bucharest and the others belong to Moscow. What will happen to the pro-Russian Moldovan churches if Ukraine acquires autocephaly?

On December 1 this year Romania marks one hundred years of modern independence, but instead of celebrating, it is worried about Russia. In the current confusion in the European Union, Bucharest is turning increasingly toward Washington for political, military, and geopolitical support. In fact, Romania is now one of the main pivots of U.S. policy in Eastern Europe. This is reflected in several bilateral treaties and accords. One such accord states:

Romania shares the U.S. commitment to transatlantic security, and fully supports endeavors to improve the effectiveness of NATO and strengthen its capabilities to address the current challenges… Thus, we are particularly appreciative to our U.S. ally for its strong political support and substantial contribution to projects such as the multinational brigade hosted by Romania, the enhanced maritime presence in the Black Sea or the Combined Joint Enhanced Training Program…’

The official statements stress that this year, besides celebrating the Romanian centennial, Bucharest also marks the 21st anniversary of the U.S.-Romanian Strategic Partnership. This treaty, signed in Washington in 1994, is considered a key factor in shaping Romania’s strategy as an American ally. Accordingly, Romanian and U.S. troops participated together on military missions in various operation areas such as the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Since its first deployment, the Romanian military contributed with more than 46,000 uniformed personnel and of these 34 were killed in action and 226 were wounded.

In addition, the United States built an important anti-missile base in southern Romania which is already operational and which has made Russia fume. A new conflict in Ukraine will also involve the current Republic of Moldova and will bring to the fore the old and unresolved question of Bessarabia…

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy. Inquiries at [email protected]

Opinion

Transnistrian Minister of Foreign Affairs: There were many delusions that the conflict between Moldova and Transnistria is very easy to resolve

Published

on

The head of the Transnistrian diplomatic mission told about what is slowing down the negotiation process.

The First Transnistrian TV channel took an interview from the Transnistrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vitaly Ignatiev, who claims that the Transnistrian side is trying to focus on concrete matters, on a specific agenda within the conflict negotiation process.

Ignatiev drew attention to the fact that the position of President Vadim Krasnoselsky, who previously declared that it makes no sense to meet with Moldovan counterparts without a specific agenda, is connected with this.

According to him, over the years of the negotiation formats on the Moldovan-Transnistrian settlement, various visions, plans or approaches that took place, there were many delusions that the conflict was very easy to resolve.

However, the Transnistrian diplomat refuses to recognize Transnistria as part of Moldova.

“We have absolutely legitimate international legal, historical grounds for recognizing the independence of Transnistria. We have a generation of Transnistrians who have not lived a single day in the Soviet Moldova. Any settlement should be based on the will of the people. We rely on the will of the population, which has already determined its fate within referendums,” the minister added.

He stated that Transnistria lives in accordance with its Constitution, and Moldova, in turn, lives within its legislative space.

“There is not a single signal about the eagerness of the Moldovan authorities to deal with these issues seriously, although there are a lot of statements about the issue. Sometimes these statements create an unnecessary background and interfere with the dialogue,” the diplomat concluded.

Continue Reading

Opinion

How critical is the upcoming European Parliament resolution on Moldova?

For the first time, the name “Plahotniuc” will be mentioned in an official act of the European Parliament. Possibly, soon enough that will close his door as a politician.

Published

on

According to cprmd, the upcoming European Parliament resolution on Moldova, on November 13-14, 2018, should be more critical.

After a draft report on the implementation of the European Union association agreement with Moldova was submitted on July 19, 2018, by MEP Petras Auštrevičius to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, amendments were tabled by diverse MEPs in the Committee on September 11, 2018. Moreover, the Committee has further approved its report on the basis of the Rapporteur’s draft report and of the amendments.

Nevertheless, some of the measures proposed initially oppose us as an attempt to hide the real problems Moldova is dealing with and tone down the justified evaluation of the recent democratic downslide of our country under the present government.

According to cprmd, the content of some draft amendments may designate that their authors have deviated from their declared objective of supporting Moldova and are devoting their efforts to helping the present regime withstand. Under the pretext of “keeping Moldova in the EU’s orbit”, corruption, crimes, injustice, and state capture are permitted.

There is no explanation for the increasing attack on the Moldovan democracy and the constant violation of human rights by the current government. The Moldovan authorities declared themselves pro-European though ceased almost irreversible to authoritarian reflexes: cancellation of the results of the mayoral elections, limitation of the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, obstruction of the right to access to information, suspicious arrests of opposition activists. This way of governing is kicking our country further from the EU.

On the other hand, the Moldovan people are grateful to the European Parliament for not dismissing the harsh reality of Moldova and address openly about the 27-year-old country’s problems.

The European Union has invested over a billion euros in the last ten years alone in order to develop the Moldovan democracy and reforms, yet it always risks to be compromised.

Continue Reading

Opinion

When Will the Trump Show End?

Published

on

This opinion piece was written by Dr. Ionas Aurelian Rus, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College (USA). The opinion does not necessarily represent the opinion of the editorial staff of Moldova.org.

***

I have been asked repeatedly when the Trump presidency will end. My answer has been for several months “Probably on January 20, 2021”.
Trump’s presidency has been far from a success, yet the fact remains that whatever can be proven about Donald Trump, namely the fact that the real estate tycoon engaged in money laundering, is probably not one of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” necessary for impeachment and removal from office any more than Bill Clinton’s perjury about what he did with Monica “Jaws” Lewinsky. The issue of whether there is a “smoking gun” in connection with Russiagate is the wrong question. There is a smoking gun in the case of various people linked to Trump, some of whom will go to jail. Yet the interpretation of the evidence has come to be seen as an issue of opinion in the post-modern age of “alternative facts”. It is unlikely that two-thirds of the Senate will remove the president who lost the popular vote by almost three million votes to Hillary Clinton from office.
Trump’s popularity rate of 40%, which has been stationary for a long time, is not sufficient for re-election, yet it is also too high for impeachment. Very many of the Republican House of Representatives members will vote against impeachment due to the fear of Trumpist competition in the Republican primaries. They might be seen as “profiles in lack of courage” from a Democratic perspective, or as individuals dedicated to a Republican legislative agenda from some conservative perspectives. The standard conservative candidate for the Republican nomination for the Virginia governorship for 2017, Ed Gillespie, barely won by 43.7% against the Trumpist Corey Stuart, who got 42.5% on June 13, 2017. Many House of Representatives members do dislike Trump, but most of their voters despise the Democrats so much that impeachment is out of the question as long as the Republicans control the House. Even if the Democrats will win the House of Representatives elections of 2018, which is less than 50% likely, it is unlikely that two-thirds of the Senate will vote for Trump’s removal from office.
Trump has indeed lost some support in comparison with the November 2016 elections, but those voters whose support he has lost are unlikely to vote in the Republican primaries. He has lost the support of many of the Democratic populists and has gained the support of some former Cruz voters who are satisfied that the president is, surprisingly to them, conservative enough. Trump has been a “fake outsider”, in respect to China a “fake protectionist”, and probably a fake populist. Unlike the wealthy, but elitist, 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, he does not strike one as an elitist who would eat “grey poupon, one of the life’s finer pleasures”. Just like Bill Clinton, Trump likes McDonald’s.
Trump has been lucky with his enemies, not only in the Republican primaries and the general election but also in the press. The flaw of the mostly Democratic Washington and New York press, especially in relation to Russiagate, is obsessiveness, which makes it boring for a person with a short attention span. That Trump has been guilty of unethical behavior is clear. Yet his spirited defense of his former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn is less reminiscent of Richard Nixon during Watergate from the movie “All the President’s Men” (though the reality was more complex than the movie), and more similar to Harry Truman’s defense of the former State Department employee and Soviet Communist spy Alger Hiss, who was convicted of perjury in 1950.
There was also a fear that Donald Trump would hand over various countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia to the Russian sphere of influence. This has not happened at the G-20 meeting, while in Warsaw, Poland, Trump fully endorsed NATO. Would there have been more leaks about Trumpworld’s links with Russia if NATO would not have been fully endorsed, or if Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia would have been handed over by Trump to the Russian sphere of influence? Perhaps. Yet this is not the age when this could be easily done. There is, after all, even a European Union which does not want these countries to join the Russian sphere of influence. If he would have attempted to help Putin expand his sphere of influence, that would have constituted proof of intentionality and thus of impeachability in the Trump team’s collusion with Russia. And Trump is still a very intelligent man, who knows how to hire very well-paid, very smart lawyers.
Yet reciprocating Russian president’s Vladimir Putin’s endorsement of Trump during the 2016 elections and his “extra credit” help with the elections, as one of my former students called it, Trump has de facto endorsed Putin for his 2018 re-election at G-20. Trump’s past investments in other countries before his presidency did not take into account human rights. The current administration has been much less supportive of human rights around the world than any U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, to the immense pleasure of Russia’s president. Putin seems indeed like Dr. Evil. We are thus dealing with organized evil, whereas Trump is merely “creative” with his Twitter.
The charismatic Republican star Trump, who succeeded Barack Obama, has also benefited from opponents who were not charismatic in the Republican primaries and caucuses, and against Hillary Clinton in the general election. Trump was quite original in his insults, but his elite opponents have not been up to the task. It is hard to imagine that any Republican could defeat Trump in the quest for the Republican nomination for 2020, and the opinion polls are showing that he would get the support of 59 to 68% in September 2018. Ohio’s Republican governor John Kasich, who is of Czech and Croatian ancestry, is planning to run for the Republican nomination in 2020 and will damage Trump.
Trump has also benefited from Putin’s “useful idiots” from the unreasonable left of the Jill Stein, Oliver Stone, and Stephen Cohen variety, who could be seen on RT (Russia Today) and in other places. Trump is afraid of being assassinated by the CIA, just as in Oliver Stone’s famous movie, “JFK”. Progressive public figures have not taken a position against Putin’s useful idiots, though they should have. In 1948, the mainstream liberals defined the pro-Soviet Russian elements as beyond the pale, but this did not happen in 2016. And, in a certain section of academia, there is more sympathy for those fired from the State Department under Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry under Obama for being too pro-Russia than for those fired under Secretary of State Tillerson under Trump for being too anti-Russia.
Could Trump be re-elected? This is unlikely, but not impossible, in the case of a catastrophe like the 9/11/2001 attacks, or of a series of bomb threats and actual bombings in the bathrooms in train stations and colleges, brought to us by Russian intelligence under the “modest” guidance of Vladimir Putin. Could Trump be impeached and removed from office? This is very unlikely, but he might resign a la Richard Nixon, and he might even invoke health as a reason for his resignation. Yet even that scenario of a shortened Trump presidency is unlikely.
So Trump will probably continue serving as the president of the U.S. until January 20, 2021, after which he will probably be succeeded by the Democratic presidential candidate. In any case, his epitaph should be, just like that of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall, “He Seen His Opportunities, and He Took ‘Em.”

Continue Reading

Latest News

Opinion16 hours ago

Transnistrian Minister of Foreign Affairs: There were many delusions that the conflict between Moldova and Transnistria is very easy to resolve

The head of the Transnistrian diplomatic mission told about what is slowing down the negotiation process. The First Transnistrian TV...

Politics2 days ago

After two years of mandate, Dodon met many presidents of other countries in person // PHOTO

After two years of mandate, Igor Dodon came to see other presidents of the country in person, except Vladimir Putin,...

Reintegration3 days ago

Transnistrian president Krasnoselsky: Discussing issues with the Moldovan president is impractical at the moment.

Recently, the president of Moldova, Igor Dodon has made an announcement that, in December, there is a scheduled meeting with...

Economy3 days ago

Good news! A motorway that connects European Union and Republic of Moldova could be built

On November 7th, the representatives of the Romanian parliament adopted a law that enables the construction of a 318 km...

Stories4 days ago

Moldova through the eyes of the world’s travel bloggers

It seems to be a “terra incognita” for most travellers in the world. Republic of Moldova is never put in...

Opinion4 days ago

How critical is the upcoming European Parliament resolution on Moldova?

For the first time, the name "Plahotniuc" will be mentioned in an official act of the European Parliament. Possibly, soon...

Security4 days ago

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

Moldovan Defense Minister Eugen Sturza declared that he had talks with the North Atlantic Alliance on behalf of the organization...

Opinions

Trending