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BBC secrets: Leaked files show UK state media engaged in anti-Moscow information warfare ops in E. Europe

By Kit Klarenberg RT | March 11, 2021

New documents raise serious questions about how well-deserved British state broadcaster BBC’s ‘unimpeachable’ reputation is, and also what impact its relationship with the UK government has on its supposedly ‘impartial’ output.

Within a tranche of secret UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) papers, recently leaked by hacktivist collective Anonymous, are files indicating that BBC Media Action (BBCMA) – the outlets ‘charitable’ arm – plays a central role in Whitehall-funded and directed psyops initiatives targeted at Russia.

American journalist Max Blumenthal has comprehensively exposed how, at the FCDO’s behest, BBCMA covertly cultivated Russian journalists, established influence networks within and outside Russia, and promoted pro-Whitehall, anti-Moscow propaganda in Russian-speaking areas.

However, the newly released files reveal BBCMA also offered to lead a dedicated FCDO program, named ‘Independent Media in Eastern Partnership Countries’ and targeted at Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. This endeavor forms part of a wider £100 million ($138.9 million) effort waged by London to demonize, destabilize and isolate Russia, at home and abroad.

A Whitehall tender indicates that under the auspices of the project, set to cost a staggering £9 million ($12.5 million) from 2018 to 2021, participating contractors are charged with crafting “innovative… media interventions” targeting individuals throughout the region, via “radio, independent social media channels, and traditional outlets.”

Further detail was offered by FCDO Counter Disinformation & Media Development (CDMD) chief Andy Pryce at a June 2018 meeting with prospective suppliers.

He made it clear that the effort’s ultimate goal was to “weaken the Russian state’s influence,” via the co-option of journalists and media organizations in target countries via funding, training, and surreptitious production of anti-Russian, pro-Western content. “Girls on HBO… but in Ukraine” was, bizarrely, one suggested example of such activity.

In response, BBCMA submitted extensive proposals, in conjunction with Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF), the global newswire’s “non-profit” wing, and since-collapsed veteran FCDO contractor Aktis Strategy.

The project was to be managed and coordinated directly by BBCMA from BBC Broadcasting House headquarters in London, with local support provided by Reuters newswire offices in Kiev and Tbilisi, and Ukraine’s Independent Association of Broadcasters.

A dedicated board, comprised of representatives of the contractors involved, the FCDO’s CDMD program, and British embassies in the target countries, would also meet privately every quarter to discuss the operation’s progress. Publicly, Whitehall’s funding and direction of the vast project was intended to be completely hidden.

The consortium boasted of having an existing “strong profile” in Eastern Partnership countries, and conducting “broad consultations” with a number of major news outlets, media organizations and journalists in the region in advance of its pitch.

For example, the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC) had been approached and offered “essential support,” aimed at “improving its existing programs” and “developing new and innovative formats for factual and non-news programs.”

BBCMA was moreover said to be “already” working on building the capacity of Kiev-based Hromadske TV, and wished to use the FCDO program to extend this assistance to “co-productions” and “building support to Hromadske Radio.”

Launched with initial funding from the American and Dutch embassies in Ukraine, Hromadske began broadcasting in November 2013 on the very day Viktor Yanukovich’s administration suspended preparations for the signing of an association agreement with the European Union, and went on to extensively cover the resultant Euromaidan protests, which eventually unseated the government the next year.

It subsequently received support from Pierre Omidyar, billionaire founder of The Intercept, who bankrolled a number of opposition groups in the country prior to the coup. In July 2014, Hromadske anchor Danylo Yanevsky abruptly terminated an interview with a Human Rights Watch representative after she consistently refused to blame Russia for civilian casualties in the Donbas conflict, despite his repeated demands.

Beyond dedicated news platforms, the consortium also pledged to enlist “local” and “hyperlocal” media outlets, as well as “freelancer journalists,” bloggers and “vloggers” for its information warfare efforts.

BBCMA argued “journalism education” locally would be a “long-term investment” – in other words, the identification, cultivation, and grooming of a network of reporters in the countries who could be relied upon to take the Whitehall line in future.

As such, the organization sought to establish a journalism training center in Gagauzia, Moldova in collaboration with NGO Media birlii – Uniunia. The autonomous region, bordered by Ukraine’s Odessa Oblast, was said to be home to “six TV companies, four radio stations, six newspapers and five web portals” potentially ripe for influence and infiltration by BBCMA – and in turn, the FCDO.

In Georgia, BBCMA visited the offices of Adjara TV “to discuss training priorities and possible co-productions.” The station was reportedly interested in developing “youth programming,” which represented “a gap in the market” in the country.

In June 2020, Georgia’s Coalition for Media Advocacy slammed Adjara for its “persecution” of “outspoken journalists expressing dissenting opinions,” after it fired newsroom chief Shorena Glonti.

Strikingly, the Coalition is funded by US regime-change agency, the National Endowment for Democracy, which supports numerous anti-Moscow initiatives worldwide. Perhaps Glonti had been too well-trained in “weakening the Russian state” for the broadcaster’s liking.

The consortium furthermore proposed to tutor and support “independent” online Georgian news outlets, including Batumelebi, iFact, Liberali, Monitor, Netgazeti, and Reginfo.

Estonia’s Digital Communications Network – financed by the US State Department – would be central to these efforts, offering lessons in “building online audiences, innovative business models and reaching out to breakaway regions susceptible to Kremlin narratives.”

The importance of “target audiences in breakaway regions” is outlined in another file, which explicitly states that the consortium would work closely with “independent outlets in proximity of non-government-controlled areas of Donbas in Ukraine, Transnistria in Moldova and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia.”

This undertaking aimed to counter the output of “separatist” media, and thus manipulate “hard-to-reach audiences,” which was “critical to achieving the project’s objectives.”

Any and all support covertly provided under the program was to be thoroughly intimate indeed, with “mentors” from the consortium “embedded” in target organizations, in order to provide “bespoke support across editorial, production and wider management systems and processes as well as on the co-production of content.”

These “mentors” include current and former BBC journalists.

“Our ability to recruit talented and experienced BBC staff is a great asset which will be harnessed for this initiative,” BBCMA promised.

These individuals may have been central to program efforts, if BBCMA’s pitch to the FCDO was accepted. For instance, UA:PBC was said to be “very interested” in receiving help from BBCMA to develop a “new debate show” and “discussion programming” to “enable audiences to think critically about the process and choices,” “counter disinformation” and “dispel rumors.”

Lofty objectives indeed, although commitments to nurturing analytical skills, thinking and debunking propaganda ring rather hollow when one considers the station’s output was perceived to be so overwhelmingly biased in favor of the government, opposition candidate Volodymyr Zelensky boycotted the channel’s official election debate during the 2019 presidential election.

BBCMA also proposed to establish an “independent” news platform in Ukraine, “timed for the run up to the 2019 election,” which would publish “vetted news content” freely syndicated to local and national media.

If the approach in Kiev was “successful,” the consortium would replicate the exercise in Georgia for the country’s 2020 election. Strikingly, the proposal brags of TRF’s experience establishing such platforms elsewhere, for example “the award-winning Aswat Masriya” in Egypt.

Other leaked files indicate the endeavor, founded after the 2011 revolution in Cairo, was secretly funded by the FCDO to the tune of £2 million ($2.8 million) over six years, and run out of Reuters’ Egyptian offices.

Over its lifespan, Aswat Masriya “became Egypt’s leading independent local media organization” and one of the most-visited websites in the country, providing news in English and Arabic, which was syndicated widely the world over. Its true, clandestine purpose seems to have been granting London a degree of narrative control over news coverage as events unfolded in the country, during its difficult and ultimately ill-fated transition to democracy.

That BBCMA likewise intended to use news coverage to influence politics in Eastern Partnership countries is amply underlined in the newly leaked files, with the organization pledging to “encourage” local news outlets to meet with “local stakeholders,” including lawmakers and community leaders, in order to “cement the media as a key governance actor.”

The organization furthermore sought to “foster a debate” in target nations, by producing wide-ranging analysis of the media environment therein. Its “long track record” of comparable efforts in “diverse” countries, including those “experiencing Arab uprisings,” had allegedly “shifted government policy.”

One objective of these lobbying efforts was achieving “a more enabling operating environment” for “independent” media in the target countries – i.e. ensuring regulations in the region were suitably conducive to and protective of the FCDO’s secret army of information warfare agents, to allow them to prosper for the duration of the consortium’s three-year offensive, and “post intervention.”

It’s not yet clear if BBCMA was successful in its pitch, and if so, which BBC journalists contributed to the program and as a result are implicated directly in cloak-and-dagger attempts to shape politics and perceptions in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine for London’s benefit.

It’s also unknown whether their commitment to fulfilling the FCDO’s objective of undermining Moscow, and furthering Whitehall’s interests, truly ends when they return to their day jobs as “objective,” “neutral” purveyors of news.

As BBCMA boasts in its pitch, the BBC is “well-known and highly regarded” in the Eastern Partnership countries, and provides “millions of viewers, listeners and online users in the region with world-class news on a daily basis.” At the very least, the leaked files make clear that neither the British state broadcaster, nor its FCDO paymasters, has any qualms about exploiting that standing and perceived credibility for malign ends.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions.

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

U.S.-made HIMARS missile systems in Romania aimed against Russian forces in Transnistria

By Paul Antonopoulos | March 5, 2021

The first batch of U.S.-made HIMARS multi-launch missile systems arrived in the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanța and is now a part of the national army. The first to receive the new missile system is the 81st Tactical Operational Missile Battalion, deployed in Focșani, about 70 kilometers from the border with Moldova.

HIMARS artillery missile systems are designed to attack areas with a concentration of artillery systems, air defenses, transport nodes and other major targets that are within a 300-kilometer range. Considering Romania borders Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia, the country has no enemies within the scope of HIMARS, bringing to question why it purchased such systems. It is difficult to explain why such a powerful weapon is deployed in eastern Romania, 220 kilometers from the Moldovan city of Tiraspol and 270 kilometers from the ammunition depot in Cobasna in the separatist region of Transnistria – which is internationally recognized as a part of Moldova.

It must be noted that the U.S. approved the sale of 20 HIMARS launchers, worth $655 million, to Poland. Romania received 54 launchers, more than double the amount of Poland, showing that the U.S. is prioritizing the Black Sea as a point of pressure against Russia – more so than the Baltics. Whereas the German Navy are present in the Baltics and the British can reach the area with relative ease, the Black Sea is effectively a “Russian lake,” particularly after Russia’s 2014 reunification with Crimea. NATO member states Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania do not have the capabilities to challenge the Russian Navy in the Black Sea, hence why Washington is also cooperating with Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia.

But the question still remains – why would Bucharest need 54 HIMARS launchers, more than the American artillery brigade has, and more than 10% of all such systems in the Pentagon’s arsenal?

It is excessive fire power for an army that has only 70,000, personnel and does not have the means to redeploy heavy weapons at a great distance. According to Firepower, Romania is ranked only 41st globally for their military power.

Hypothetically, in a war situation, the 41st U.S. Artillery Brigade could borrow the Romanian HIMARS systems and transport them to Georgia or Ukraine. At the end of 2020, U.S. ground forces conducted exercises to prepare for a “hi-tech war” in Romania. In a few hours they managed to transport by air two HIMARS systems from Germany to the Kogâlniceanu Air Base and launch several rockets towards the Black Sea – there is little doubt that the imagined target was Russian forces when we consider that it is only 400 kilometers between the Romanian coast and Russia. Although this is 100 kilometers less than the range of the HIMARS system, according to Forbes, the exercises were “a message for Moscow” and a “rocket surprise” for Russian forces in Crimea.

The political-military situation in the region is becoming increasingly tense, with Moldova coming within range of American weapons and soldiers based in Romania. According to the Constitution, the Republic of Moldova is a neutral state, but decisionmakers in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau and their Romanian counterparts in Bucharest concluded a military cooperation agreement in 2013, which de facto subordinates Moldovan troops to the Romanian General Staff and allows Romanian gendarmes to maintain “public order” in the country. With Romania effectively controlling Moldova’s security and President Maia Sandu pivoting her country towards NATO and the European Union, Chisinau could be a willing participant in the West’s sustained campaign to pressure Moscow.

Analysts at the Pentagon-affiliated RAND Corporation are examining how U.S. troops could enter Moldova to participate in military exercises and not leave, using the pretext of the so-called Russian threat. American maneuvers and armament in Eastern Europe not only threatens Russia, but serves to ensure that Romania and Baltic States stay loyal to Washington and against Moscow.

If the U.S. is successful in stationing troops in Moldova, they would effectively have new access to the Black Sea via the Port of Giurgiulești on the Danube River. In addition, U.S. troops would be within touching distance of the 1,500-strong Operational Group of Russian Forces in Transnistria, whose responsibilities include maintaining peace and guarding several tons of military equipment and ammunition in Cobasna.

Although the HIMARS system cannot reach Russia from Romania, it is likely that these missiles are aimed against Russian forces maintaining peace in Transnistria. 54 HIMARS in Romania’s arsenal demonstrates an escalation by Bucharest as it is clear that the excessive number of units is not for defensive purposes, especially considering the country’s cordial relations with its neighbors.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

March 5, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

MICHAEL MCFAUL’S COUNTERPRODUCTIVE POLICY PROPOSALS

Irrussianality | January 22, 2021

War, said the great Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz, is an “interaction.” It is “not the action of a living force upon a lifeless mass, but always the collision of two living forces.” One might say the same thing about international politics. Whatever you do always involves others, who have a will of their own and who act in ways which impede the fulfilment of your plans.

The good strategist doesn’t assume that others will simply comply with his demands. Rather he considers their likely response, and if it is probable that they will respond in a way that harms his own interests, he jettisons his plan and looks for another.

Joe Biden’s victory against Donald Trump in the recent US presidential election has led to a slew of articles suggesting the policies that the new administration should pursue towards Russia. All too often, instead of considering how Russia will respond, they treat it as a “lifeless mass” which can be pushed in the desired direction by pressing the correct buttons. Experience, however, suggests that this is not the case, and the Russian reaction to the proposed policies is not likely to be what the United States desires.

An example is an article by the former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul, published this week in the magazine Foreign Affairs. Full of suggestions for ramping up the pressure on Russia, it fails to take into consideration how Moscow is likely to respond to such pressure. Consequently, it ends up proposing a line that if put into practice would probably be entirely counterproductive.

McFaul accuses Russian president Vladimir Putin of leading an “assault on democracy, liberalism, and multilateral institutions,” with the objective of “the destruction” of the international order. From this McFaul concludes that the United States “must deter and contain Putin’s Russia for the long haul.” He then makes several suggestions as to what this policy should involve.

First, he suggests that NATO build up its armed forces on Russia’s border, “especially on its vulnerable southern flank”. Why precisely this is “vulnerable” McFaul doesn’t say, but he does tell us that NATO “needs new weapons systems, including frigates with antisubmarine technologies, nuclear and conventionally powered submarines, and patrol aircraft.”

Second, he argues that America must increase its support to Ukraine. “A successful, democratic Ukraine will inspire new democratic possibilities in Russia,” he says, as if a “successful, democratic Ukraine” is something that can simply be wished into existence. But McFaul wants to do more than just help Ukraine; he also wants to punish Russia. “As long as Putin continues to occupy Ukrainian territory, sanctions should continue to ratchet up,” he says.

Third, McFaul wants the US to get more deeply involved in other countries on Russia’s borders. “Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Uzbekistan all deserve diplomatic upgrades,” he suggests. He also recommends that Joe Biden, “should meet with Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya”.

Fourth, McFaul wishes to venture into the world of censorship. America and other Western democracies, “should develop a common set of laws and protocols for regulating Russian government controlled-media,” he says. To this end, he argues that Biden should get social media to “downgrade the information Russia distributes through its propaganda channels.” If a search engine produces a link to RT, “a BBC story should pop up next to it,” he says.

Finally, McFaul says that the United States should bypass the Russian government to forge contacts with the Russian people, so as to “undermine Putin’s anti-American propaganda.” The USA should also train Russian journalists as part of an effort to “support independent journalism and anticorruption efforts in Russia.”

Strategy, as Clausewitz, pointed out, is about using tactics to achieve the political aim. But it is almost impossible to see how the tactics McFaul proposes could help the United States achieve any useful objective. The simple reason is that Russia is hardly likely to react to them in a positive fashion.

Let us look at them from a Russian point of view. How will the Russian government see them?

Sanctions are to “ratchet up” in perpetuity (as they must if they are connected to Russia’s possession of Crimea, which no Russian government will ever surrender); NATO will deploy more and more forces on Russia’s frontier; America will interfere ever more in Russian internal affairs, building up what will undoubtedly be considered a “fifth column” of US-trained journalists and opposition activists; the USA will intensify efforts to detach Russia from its allies and build up a ring up of hostile states around it; and finally, America will launch all-out information warfare to bend the international media to its will.

What does McFaul imagine Russia will do when it sees all this? Put up its hands and surrender? If he does, then it’s clear that in a lifetime studying Russia, he’s managed to learn nothing.

In reality, the response would probably be not at all to his liking. The growing sense of external and internal threat would lead to an increase in repressive measures at home, undermining the very democracy and liberty McFaul claims to be supporting. In addition, we would most probably see Russia increasing its own military forces on its national frontiers; doubling down on its support for the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in Eastern Ukraine; and pressing further with its own activities in the information domain.

In short, the Russian response would involve Russia doing all the things that McFaul dislikes, but even more so. It is hard to see how his strategy could be deemed to be a sensible one.

If it was just McFaul, it would probably not matter too much. But he is far from the only person saying these things. The general theme among supporters of the new Biden administration is that Trump was too soft on Russia, and that America needs to take a more robust line. This does not bode well for the next few years.

“Know your enemy and know yourself,” said another great strategist, Sun Tzu. Unfortunately, Americans seem to have forgotten this advice. They would do well to heed it.

January 22, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meeting between Moldovan and Ukrainian leaders was to coordinate actions against Russia

Paul Antonopoulos | January 18, 2021

The visit of Moldovan President Maia Sandu to Ukraine last week is the first interaction between the two neighboring countries at the highest level in recent years. For Sandu, this trip became her foreign policy premiere since she became president on December 24, 2020. We could observe in her meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that there is a good level of personal interaction between the two leaders.

The Three Seas Initiative project was discussed in relation to the implementation of a partnership with the EU. The Three Seas Initiative is a forum comprising of twelve European Union members located between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas and has the aim of fostering closer cooperation. Both Moldova and Ukraine want to be involved in the Three Seas Initiative despite not being European Union member states.

Both Sandu and Zelensky are radically opposed to Russia in the belief that it will help their country’s prospects of becoming European Union and NATO members. The Moldovan and Ukrainian leaders discussed “mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity” and their willingness to face “geopolitical challenges” together with the traditional allusion of a common “aggressor.” They never directly named Russia, but given their known position against Moscow, it is obvious who their statement was directed towards.

Sandu and Zelensky are oriented towards the same circles in the West. Both aim to integrate their countries into Euro-Atlantic structures, despite the unlikeliness that Moldova or Ukraine will become member states of the European Union or NATO in the foreseeable future. As a result of their willingness to appease Western interests in Eastern Europe, Russian influence in the post-Soviet space is being challenged. But now that the political situation in the United States is showing signs of instability, it is not convenient for them to make openly direct statements against Russia.

The issue of Crimea and the Crimean Platform was deliberately avoided by both presidents in the part of the meeting that was revealed to the public. This is likely because such maneuvers require consultation with the incoming Joe Biden administration. Sandu and Zelensky most likely considered it premature to make such statements regarding Crimea. This decision is despite Ukraine launching the Crimean Platform just a mere few months earlier as part of their strategy to “de-occupy” the peninsula after it reunited with Russia in 2014 in a referendum that adhered to all international norms and standards.

When the new administration in Washington stabilizes, it will become clearer whether Moldova’s and Ukraine’s Western partners are ready to use them against Russia. Although they will likely find support from Biden if they continue their opposition to Russia, there will be elections for a new German Chancellor on September 26 and Angela Merkel will not be running. The victor could determine whether Berlin, the de facto leader of the European Union, will continue to loyally follow Washington’s foreign policy or pursue an independent one.

Away from the public eye and ear, it is likely that Sandu and Zelensky privately discussed possibilities of joint pressure against Russia in Transnistria and Donbass. Although Donbass is well known to Westerners, Transnistria is almost unheard of. The small territory is wedged between Ukraine and Moldova. It has a de facto independence but is internationally recognized as a part of Moldova despite the majority of the population being either Russian or Ukrainian.

It should be remembered that during last year’s election campaign, Sandu announced that she will focus on “eliminating the Russian military presence” without mentioning a political settlement in the Transnistrian dispute, thus threatening to warm up a frozen conflict. Given the geography, Ukraine and Moldova are able to blockade Transnistria. This would sever transport links and economic flows.

During the meeting between Sandu and Zelensky, only two public initiatives came to be known – the creation of a certain transportation corridor between the capitals of Ukraine and Moldova, and the organization of a presidential council of the two countries. However, regarding the first initiative, it must have a strong economic justification to be attractive to potential investors. Given the current state of low economic interaction between Ukraine and Moldova, as well as their economic crises, such a justification will be very difficult to find.

The Presidential Council is a more realistic initiative, although the idea itself is not new. The statement about it is a sign that Moldova and Ukraine have agreed to pursue certain policies together. Even if those policies are not clear yet, it will undoubtedly include how they can collectively counter Russian influence in Transnistria and Donbass.

January 18, 2021 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Moldova could be the next target of Western-backed color revolution to pressurize Russia

By Paul Antonopoulos | October 22, 2020

Washington could be organizing a color revolution and mass protests in Moldova like the ones that have already gripped Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. The Moldovan elections are scheduled for November 1 and have eight presidential candidates participating. The main rivals however are current President Igor Dodon, considered “pro-Russian,” and former Prime Minister Maia Sandu, considered “pro-European.”

There is a combination of internal and external factors at play in Moldova, something that has come to typically define the post-Soviet space. There is constant internal instability when considering the breakaway region of Transnistria, weak statehood, many conflicting ideological interest groups, and active attempts to get Moldova into the NATO and EU sphere of influence. This is what makes Moldova at high risk of experiencing a color revolution after the upcoming presidential elections if Dodon is re-elected.

According to polls and local experts, the first round of the presidential election may not determine the winner. Dodon, who aims to bring Moldova closer to Russia via the Eurasian Economic Union, and Sandu, who is considered the country’s main pro-Western politician, will likely compete against each other in the second round of voting. Polls show that Dodon has greater support from citizens, but not enough to win in the first round.

The director of the Russian Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, warned that the U.S. was preparing a color revolution in Moldova and highlighted that Washington would continue to interfere in the internal affairs of states friendly to Moscow, especially those along Russia’s borders. According to him, a color revolution could occur after the Moldovan presidential elections. The reason is Washington’s dissatisfaction with Dodon as he supports constructive relations with members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, particularly Russia.

The U.S. State Department ordered its embassy in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau to encourage the opposition to organize mass protests to demand an annulment if Dodon is re-elected. According to Russian secret services, U.S. diplomats are also trying to persuade Moldovan security forces not to interfere in possible street protests and to immediately “side with the people.”

Many Moldovan experts also warn of a possible coup attempt. Sandu, who sees the country as part of the EU family and supports the idea of ​​uniting Moldova with Romania, has already accused local authorities of preparing to falsify the election results and called on her supporters to prepare for protests. However, if Dodon is re-elected, it is likely his supporters will not allow the opposition to question the election results. As recently as last week, Dodon talked about preparing for a potential color revolution attempt.

The destabilization of the post-Soviet space has all the signs of a planned and coordinated campaign to pressurize Russia by creating hotspots on or near its borders. The U.S. is the only country in the world that has enough resources and motivation to organize persistent and constant campaigns and has been actively indifferent or encouraging destabilization in countries on or near Russia’s frontiers, whether it be Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia-Azerbaijan or elsewhere.

This has been a consistent policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union when we consider how the 1990’s was dominated by manufactured coups, rebellions and revolutions in many former Soviet Republics, including Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Armenia and other neighbors or near neighbors of Russia.

Now that the U.S. is on the verge of a presidential election, the State Department and U.S. special services are attempting to weaken Russia and other geopolitical opponents. In other words, destabilization along Russia’s borders is part of a campaign to curb and undermine the country’s economic, political and technological capabilities. Because of Russia’s independent foreign and economic policies, size and resources, the Eurasian country poses a threat to U.S. global domination. It is for this reason that tensions, wars, riots and revolutions are constantly erupting near Russia’s borders, but at the same time Washington persistently points out that its national interest is to ensure peace, democracy and stability in countries that border Russia.

Although Moldova does not directly border Russia, it is a former Soviet Republic that still maintains cordial relations with Moscow. Moldova is a gateway that connects Eastern Europe to the Balkans. A potential Dodon re-election will once again prohibit any EU and NATO advancement towards the border of Russia.

This makes a color revolution against his re-election all the more necessary so that Moldova can potentially be the next country that borders Ukraine to become an EU and/or NATO member state. With another neighbor of Ukraine becoming an EU and/or NATO member, the eventual path of Kiev’s accession into those two organizations will become easier to navigate. This means the largest European country to border Russia, Ukraine, will be even more integrated into a system to pressurize Moscow.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

October 22, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

Moldova to move embassy to Jerusalem

MEMO | June 12, 2019

Moldova has announced that it will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move which would make it the first European country to do so.

The announcement comes against the backdrop of a political crisis in Moldova, a small Eastern European country located between Romania and Ukraine.

The country has been engaged in a power struggle between three parties – the pro-European Union ACUM bloc; the Socialists led by Moldovan President Igor Dodon and backed by Russia; and the Democratic Party run by media tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc – since it held elections in February.

After months of post-election deadlock, ACUM and the Socialist party agreed to form a government – a move not recognised by the Democratic Party which insists that the previous prime minister, Pavel Filip, remains in charge.

On Sunday, the Democratic Party persuaded the country’s Constitutional Court to briefly suspend President Dodon and install Filip as president for enough time to allow him to issue a decree calling for snap elections in September, US-based magazine Algemeiner explains. While acting as president, Filip announced that Moldova would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In a statement issued yesterday, Filip tied the country’s domestic difficulties to the announcement of the embassy move, as well as the sale of land for the construction of a new US embassy in Moldovan capital Chisinau.

The interim prime minister wrote: “We are in [a] situation [in which we need] to urgently adopt these decisions taking into account the political instability and uncertainty in the country, but also the latest political developments [in which] one of the political parties that constantly blocked these two projects is attempting an illegal takeover of power.”

He continued: “These are two commitments that we have previously undertaken and we want to make sure they will be respected, regardless of what happens after the snap elections.”

Given Moldova’s internal political instability, it is unclear whether the government will be able to follow through on its announcement. If the relocation is undertaken, Moldova will become the first European country to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

Since US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and relocated the US embassy to the Holy City in May 2018, a handful of countries have followed suit. Most of these have been Latin American countries with close ties to the US, including Paraguay and Guatemala.

However, within months of relocating its mission, Paraguay reversed the decision and moved the embassy back to Tel Aviv, citing a desire to support “broad, lasting and just peace” among Israelis and Palestinians.

Brazil – which recently elected pro-Israel politician Jair Bolsonaro as its president – has also toyed with the idea of moving its embassy to Jerusalem. In March, however, Brazil appeared to backtrack on its promise, saying it would instead open a “business office” in Jerusalem.

Likewise Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban – who, like Bolsonaro, is considered a close associate of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – has said his country will open a “diplomatic office” in Jerusalem, though stopped short of promising a full-service embassy.

Despite Israel encouraging other countries to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem – and announcing it would build a new “embassy complex” which could house nine diplomatic missions for the purpose – the international community has generally opted not to follow President Trump’s controversial move.

June 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | | Leave a comment

UN call to withdraw ‘foreign troops’ from Moldova threatens Transnistria peace process – Moscow

RT | June 23, 2018

A UN resolution calling for withdrawal of “foreign troops” from Moldova might reignite the Transnistrian conflict, Moscow warns. Moldovan President Igor Dodon called the resolution a PR stunt of the democrats ahead of an election.

The resolution, calling for the “complete and unconditional withdrawal of foreign military forces” from Moldova was adopted by the UN General Assembly on Friday. The Moldova-sponsored document received a simple majority, with 63 countries voting for it, 15 against, and 82 abstaining.

Russia condemned the adoption of the resolution as a shortsighted move which could lead to a potential flashpoint between the unrecognized Transnistria Republic and Moldova, undermining the “fragile” reconciliation process.

The resolution targets a small contingent of Russian peacekeepers, which have been stationed in the breakaway region of Transnistria for over two decades. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, ethnic tensions in Moldova resulted in a brief but intense armed conflict in 1992.

The involvement of Russian troops in the conflict back in 1992 put a stop to the bloodshed, the foreign ministry stated, adding that Russian peacekeepers remain “the guarantor of peace in the region.”

“We perceive this initiative as a blatant propaganda move of some of the political figures in Kishinev, who seek to score political points ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections by fueling anti-Russian sentiments,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

A similar opinion was expressed by the president of Moldova, Igor Dodon, who criticized the decision of his government to push the resolution through the UN General Assembly.

“The ruling coalition exploits international platforms to reinforce its political standing ahead of the parliamentary elections, which will be held in a couple of months. Such PR stunt of the Democratic Party won’t have any effect in reality,” Dodon said in a Facebook post.

The withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the Transnistria region will occur only when the 1992 agreement between the breakaway region and Moldova is fully implemented, and the “two banks of Dniester” reach full reconciliation, Dodon stressed. The president also said that until lasting peace is achieved, the Russian peacekeeping operation, which is “one of the most successful,” should continue.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Russia-US Security Dialogue Looming: Time to Address a Broader Security Agenda

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 25.03.2018

A lot of people close to the US president wanted to prevent it at any cost but Donald Trump congratulated President Putin anyway and had a phone conversation with him. The US president said that the two would meet “in the not too distant future.” Preventing an arms race is one issue on the agenda. Donald Trump knew the move would bring forth a tempest but he did it anyway. The president considered the relationship with Moscow to be important enough to defy his numerous opponents. Serbia has already offered to host a summit.

Right after the two presidents’ conversation, the Russian and American chiefs of staff discussed Syria. What’s even more important is that they have agreed to more military-to-military contacts in the future. Why has it suddenly become so important for Washington to launch a dialog on defense issues? The answer was provided by General John E. Hyten, the Commander of US Strategic Command, who admitted in the Senate that the US is defenseless in the face of the threat from hypersonic weapons. This realization came right after Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed his recent information about the new systems capable of hypervelocity flight that are currently being tested and are soon to be operational.

The US is a great military power but it’s not strong enough to force everyone to dance to its tune. Its defense programs suffer from serious shortcomings. The current arms-control system is in crisis. New challenges keep cropping up. They should be incorporated into the international security agenda but that’s not happening.

The looming hypersonic race is a burning issue that still needs to be addressed. It’s a domain in which the US is lagging behind Russia. When the Russian president announced those breakthroughs in military technology, his revelations were met with some skepticism in the West. But the ensuing events proved him right. Vladimir Putin pulled it off, making hotheads come to their senses and realize the need for talks to address the security challenges. Washington needs this dialog more than Moscow does.

So, the Americans’ coveted leadership in military technology has turned out to be a pipe dream. But their furtive steps to bring NATO right to Russia’s doorstep are not. The most interesting things often fall off the radar.

Moldova is planning to phase out its draft in order to have a professional military. This month, Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine formed an anti-Russia alliance. Moving to an all-volunteer force is in keeping with the political goals of this group and is seen as an important step on the path to NATO membership. That reform is scheduled to begin this fall. This is a very costly endeavor, especially when one is talking about the poorest country in Europe. Chisinau cannot afford it. It will be fully dependent on assistance from Romania and other NATO states.

Moldova’s process of embracing the bloc has accelerated recently. A joint Romanian-Moldovan task force equipped and trained in accordance with NATO standards is on its way. That step was agreed on in February. According to the military cooperation agreement signed by Chisinau and Bucharest in 2012 and ratified by the Moldovan parliament in 2013, Romanian troops and police forces enjoy freedom of movement on Moldovan territory. In other words, a NATO member has a free hand in Moldova, although the region of Transnistria, where Russian peacekeepers are stationed, is part of that country. This is a real hornet’s nest and the problem remains unaddressed.

The fact that Poland has shifted its best military forces, including its most modern tanks, eastward has not gone unnoticed in Russia. The country will receive 70 AGM-158B JASSM-ER long-range air-to-surface missiles from the US by 2020 or a bit earlier. With an operational range of roughly 1,000 km, this stealth weapon boasting a penetrating warhead can hit infrastructure deep inside Russia. One does not have to be a military expert to realize that the JASSM-ER’s prime mission is to knock out Russian Iskander short-range missiles deployed in the Kaliningrad region in a first strike.

The small Polish town of Powidz is to become a NATO hub for the Baltics and Northern Europe. Construction is underway to build a storage facility for a brigade’s worth of military hardware and personnel. The US Aegis Ashore BMD system will be operational in Poland this year. This is a highly destabilizing weapon that will become a target for a first strike by the Russian military.

Nor has Russia forgotten about the 300 US Marines stationed in Norway, or the construction of a sophisticated new radar system known as Globus 3 in the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. This is a violation of international law, as Svalbard was supposed to be demilitarized under a 1925 treaty. The facility there is an element of NATO’s ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. The joint US-Norwegian radar station is viewed by Moscow as a clear provocation. Norway is to be provided with over 50 US F-35 stealth fighters in 2019, enabling it to strike Russian territory. The F-35 is a nuclear-capable plane.

All these moves are being closely watched by the Russian military. Even if new weapons are incorporated into the bilateral arms-control agenda, the efforts to create the potential for a first strike near Russia’s borders are certainly not something Moscow can turn a blind eye toward. This does not create the right environment for a security dialog between Moscow and Washington. Everything is connected.

What Russia and the US really need is not just talks about curbing super weapons, but also negotiations addressing a much broader security agenda.

March 25, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Statement of Four: West Wages Multi-Front, Multi-Domain Campaign Against Russia

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 19.03.2018

Contain Russia in all spheres, squeeze it out everywhere you can, and ramp up pressure to make it kneel. It’s not a big thing to find a pretext to justify the orchestrated campaign launched by the West to put the relations with Moscow on confrontational footing. It stubbornly keeps on reviving the Cold War. This is a holistic policy with some actions hitting media headlines to focus world public attention on, while some moves are camouflaged and kept out of spotlight.

With so many doubts expressed about Moscow’s complicity in the Salisbury spy poisoning, the leaders of the UK, the US, Germany and France – the big four – made an unprecedented joint statement putting the blame on Russia. They did not find it necessary to wait for investigation results to say Moscow had violated international law and threatened their security. The statement says Russia did not cooperate with Britain. It does not mention the fact that Moscow was ready to meet London halfway but received no requests in line with the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The only thing Russia can be blamed for is its policy of refusing to communicate in the language of ultimatums.

Everything has suddenly become clear. Russia’s guilt is evident despite the fact that nothing new has been revealed since French President Macron’s spokesman warned the UK on March 14 against “fantasy politics”. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon had not investigated the case but the verdict was handed down. UK PM Theresa May was quite happy about the statement as it showed that the allies “are standing alongside us”.

On March 15, the US introduced new sanctions against Russia to punish it for alleged election meddling and cyberattacks. The announcement came together with the statement of the Big Four. As usual, the move is the result of allegations and claims not based on solid proof and established facts. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer believes it’s still “not enough”. He demands that President Trump introduce more sanctions and publicly denounce Russian President Putin. It’s just the first step, chimed in Senator Mark Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He wondered why it had taken so long.

That’s what is in the spotlight. Now, about the creeping offensive kept out of spotlight to be waged almost clandestinely. Few media have reported about the decision of the Polish government just announced by Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak to move “some of the army units” stationed in the west of the country to its eastern borders. The country’s military command system would be reformed because Russia is “unpredictable.”

Meanwhile, Romania is preparing to stage a “maidan” in Moldova to gobble it up. If the plan goes through, this post-Soviet country will become part of NATO and the EU, unleashing a chain reaction in the region considered a sphere of Russia’s influence. A coup is slated for March 24. Extremist groups are expected to capture the parliament building. Moldovan President Igor Dodon had predicted that the attempts to forcibly unify Moldova and Romania would lead to a civil war. The scenario events will most certainly spur separatist sentiments in Transnistria. No doubt, Russia will be blamed for “nefarious activities”, especially if it raises its voice in support of Moldovans’ right to decide their own fate without outside interference.

On March 14, the US announced a diplomatic offensive to squeeze Russia out from the Balkans. Wess Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, urged the nations of the region to resolve their disputes with the help of the West. He mentioned the possible expansion of the EU. Mr. Mitchell did not say so openly but there is little doubt it was an attempt to lure Belgrade away from Russia. Serbia is a country of special concern for the US military brass.

NATO has recently accused Moscow of interfering in the internal affairs of the Balkan countries, including information warfare. EU leaders wasted no time to express their concern over Russia’s policy in the region as Theresa May was ringing alarm bells over the Salisbury poisoning case. They are ready to engage Moscow in “information war”.

Making Russia responsible for the situation in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta is another direction of attack. Provocations are being planned to blame the Russia-backed Syria’s government for the use of CW.

The Salisbury poisoning, false flag chemical attacks in Ghouta, “battle for the Balkans”, provocations being prepared in Moldova, Estonia, Estonia, Latvia and Poland abruptly stepping up their fight against the Nord Stream-2 gas project in the Baltic Sea, as well as a lot of other things, are parts of a broader picture. The West is attacking Russia on all fronts and in all domains. There are no clear rules of the road. The pressure will be gradually being ratcheted up till Moscow bows and kneels.

As history teaches, this outcome is unlikely. But the policy may backfire to undermine the Western unity, which is extremely fragile. The West faces multiple threats and challenges; its very foundation is in jeopardy. These are the days when it needs partners more than artificially created enemies adding to the plethora of grave problems it is trying hard to tackle. Today it is wasting resources and effort on waging the well-orchestrated campaign against Moscow instead of coming up with constructive policy of ensuring its security and cohesion.

March 19, 2018 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The West Attacks Russia on the Eve of the Munich Security Conference: Blind to the Truth

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.02.2018

So, Russia is the biggest “threat” to European security? And this is what the West, which has done nothing to provoke Moscow, is concerned about? Moscow is to blame for the erosion of arms control, the military deployments in Europe, the close calls during military exercises, and much else that is undermining European security? This view is supported by the recent annual Munich Security Report, titled “To The Brink – And Back?” released on Feb. 8. That paper warns that the security situation will further deteriorate, possibly leading to a military clash.

The annual Munich Security Conference (MSC) will take place on February 16-18. No doubt the participants will paint Russia as a bully who is responsible for each and every thing that is going wrong, while the “innocent” West is calling for restraint and is ready to go to any length to preserve peace on earth.

The West is innocent? Russia is a bully and a threat? This is the right time to look at recent events to see what’s really happening. The US 2019 draft budget released on Feb. 12 asks Congress to approve over $6.3 billion for the US-led NATO European Reassurance Initiative (ERI). In other words, this money is to be spent on a military build-up near Russia’s borders. The ERI was launched in 2014 as a symbolic gesture to assuage East European fears. It has turned into a large-scale deployment that just keeps growing. The cost totaled $3.4 billion in FY 2017, and $4.8 billion in 2018. President Trump’s 2019 budget proposal also envisages $250 million in military aid to Ukraine, which Russia views as an openly provocative move.

The US budget allocates a total of $716 billion for national defense, including $24 billion to modernize its existing arsenal and create new offensive nuclear weapons. For comparison, the Russian 2017 defense budget was roughly $70 billion – about 1/10th of the size of the American appropriations. And the American budget isn’t just paying for weapons. It also includes $661.4 million for broadcasting purposes (the Broadcasting Board of Governors) or, to call a spade a spade, the information war against Russia.

On Feb. 12, a group of Democratic senators introduced a resolution pushing President Donald Trump to authorize new sanctions against Russia, in accordance with the Сountering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, CAATSA). They are infuriated by what they call the “lack of seriousness shown by the administration in the face of a clear national security threat.”

NATO is quietly beefing up its logistics infrastructure, preparing for a war with Russia. Norway is hosting US Marines, who are deployed near the Norwegian-Russian border. Oslo is to join the NATO missile defense system. The US military presence in Europe has been growing for two years. NATO has recently deployed four battle groups in Poland and the Baltic states and is stepping up its presence in the Black Sea.

There are events that are kept out of the spotlight, but that illustrate how NATO keeps on expanding, in order to undermine Russia’s security and interests. On Feb. 5, Romania, a NATO member, reached an agreement with Moldova to form a joint battalion to familiarize Moldovan military personnel with NATO’s standards. Officially, the unit is to be deployed only under “extraordinary circumstances.” This is the first time that the two countries’ militaries have ever created a joint unit. More than 800 Moldovan officers have undergone military training in Romania. The two countries plan to hold more joint military exercises.

Romania has expressed its strong support of the idea of having Russian peacekeepers withdrawn from Transnistria, with an OSCE mission to take their place. No doubt Bucharest plans to take part in such a mission. Romania has always supported the concept of unification with Moldova. That unification would include Transnistria, where Russian peacekeeping forces are deployed. Once the joint battalion has been created, NATO forces will be facing Russian troops eyeball to eyeball.

The Moldovan government has banned Russian broadcasting. It is striving to integrate with the EU and is sending its military to take part in NATO drills, including in Ukraine. Transnistria favors Russia and wants to join the Moscow-led Eurasian project. Its people reject the idea of integration with Romania. With the Russian peacekeepers gone, the probability of armed conflict will be high.

2018 is the year the NATO Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system is to be deployed in Poland. The system can fire Tomahawk surface-to-surface intermediate-range cruise missiles. It constitutes a flagrant violation of the INF Treaty. In the summer of 2018, Poland will host Anaconda 2018 – the largest NATO military exercise since the end of the Cold War. Roughly 100,000 troops, including 20,000 Polish soldiers, 5,000 armored vehicles, 150 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, and 45 ships will take part in the drills.

One of the issues being discussed at the NATO defense ministers’ meeting (Feb.14-15) is the establishment of two new headquarters – the first upgrade of the command structure since the breakup of the Soviet Union. A command responsible for maritime security will be hosted by the US. A command responsible for ground forces operations in Europe will be set up in Germany. The formal decision is to be made in July at the NATO summit.

The majority of the speakers at the upcoming Munich conference will blame Russia for everything that has gone awry. The “Russia is at it again” approach will prevail. The deployment of Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad region will be cited as an example of Russian “aggressiveness.” Few speakers will remember who provoked Moscow into taking action to ensure its own security, or the violations of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act banning the deployment of substantial combat forces, or the breach of the INF Treaty that occurred with the positioning of the Aegis Ashore Mk-41 launchers capable of firing intermediate-range missiles. Few will make any attempt to empathize or to brainstorm ideas for finding common ground with Moscow. But hope dies last. In theory, the Munich conference is the right forum for sharing fresh ideas and making new proposals. It would be much more fruitful for NATO and Russia to steer the conversation toward something constructive instead of merely hurling mutual recriminations.

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

EU launches new ‘single resource’ website to counter ‘Russian propaganda’

RT | September 12, 2017

An EU agency, specifically tasked with fighting what the West terms ‘Russia propaganda,’ has launched its new website to provide Europeans with “a single resource” to “enlighten” them about alleged “pro-Kremlin propaganda.”

The site was launched in English, German and Russian. It’s part of the ongoing “EU vs disinformation” campaign waged by the EU’s East Stratcom Task Force.

“Today we launch our new website http://www.euvsdisinfo.eu, providing you with a single resource on addressing the challenge of pro-Kremlin disinformation,” a statement on the website says.

“This website is part of a campaign to better forecast, address and respond to pro-Kremlin disinformation,” it says further.

The webpage features a “searchable database of disinformation cases” and “interactive statistics” on the number of alleged disinformation cases, as well as on countries that are most frequently mentioned in what is perceived as “pro-Kremlin propaganda.”

Even though a disclaimer on the page says the Disinformation Review “focuses on key messages carried in the international information space, which have been identified as providing a partial, distorted or false view or interpretation and/or spreading key pro-Kremlin messaging,” it seems to be focusing solely on the latter.

The group also runs pages on Facebook and Twitter that are also aimed at revealing “manipulation and disinformation in pro-Kremlin media.” Its Facebook page called “EU vs Disinformation” was created in June 2016 while its “EU Mythbusters” Twitter page has been active since November 2015.

Both social media pages use a slogan that bears a striking resemblance to RT’s “Question More” catchphrase. “Don’t be deceived. Question even more,” it reads.

The East Stratcom Task Force was formed as part of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in early 2015 to tackle what the EU perceives as Russian propaganda. The EU said the group was tasked with countering disinformation about the Union and its policies in the “Russian language space.”

The EU’s “eastern European partners” – the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – were designated as their target audience.

In early 2017, the group received extra personnel and additional funding. The move came ahead of national elections in several European countries, including France, the Netherlands and Germany.

In November 2016, the European Parliament also adopted a non-legislative resolution which called for the EU to “respond to information warfare by Russia” and listed RT and the Sputnik news agency as one of the most dangerous “tools of hostile propaganda.”

Written by a Polish member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, Anna Fotyga, the report alleged that Moscow aims to “distort the truth, provoke doubt, divide the EU and its North American partners, paralyze the decision-making process, discredit the EU institutions and incite fear and uncertainty among EU citizens.”

The document went even further, placing Russian media organizations alongside terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

President Vladimir Putin said at the time that the EU Parliament’s resolution demonstrates “political degradation” in regard to the “idea of democracy” in the West.

The move was also criticized by the Russian envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, who said the EU tries to “erase the perception of Russia as an indispensable part of the European civilization from the public conscience” and to “create a wall of alienation and mistrust between our peoples.”

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Constitutional Crisis Brews in Moldova as Government Tests President’s Authority

Sputnik – 4 10.09.2017

Moldovan President Igor Dodon is demanding the resignation of Deputy Defense Minister Gheorghe Galbura for defying a presidential order to block the deployment of Moldovan troops to Ukraine to participate in NATO-led military drills. Speaking to Sputnik, regional expert Boris Rozhin warned that the country is on a path to a constitutional crisis.

The Moldovan government approved sending several dozen troops to Ukraine last week, ignoring Dodon’s decree to block the deployment. Dodon described the move as an ‘usurpation of power’ by the cabinet.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik about what’s likely to happen next, Boris Rozhin, an expert at the Center of Military-Political Journalism, said that the Moldovan government will be likely to try to ignore or challenge the president’s demand for Galbura’s resignation.

“This confrontation over sending the military abroad is an indication that the constitutional crisis in Moldova is deepening,” the expert said. “The parliament and the government are refusing to recognize the president’s authority as commander-in-chief to give orders to the country’s armed forces.”

“This issue will be considered at a meeting of the country’s Security Council, and most likely, by the constitutional court, as Dodon’s decision to dismiss the deputy defense minister will either be ignored or contested,” Rozhin added.

The expert believes that this confrontation between the branches of Moldova’s government is likely to continue until the next parliamentary elections, tentatively set for November 2018.

“The confrontation can be resolved through a decision of the constitutional court, which confirms or rejects Dodon’s right to issue orders to the Armed Forces, or deepen further and continue until the next parliamentary elections,” Rozhin said.

“After that, a reformatting of the legislature may take place. At the moment, the ruling establishment does not reflect the alignment of forces in Moldovan society, which has grown tired of the government’s push for European integration, which did not bring the hoped for economic and social improvements for ordinary people.”

As the constitutionally designated commander-in-chief, Dodon vetoed the government’s decision to send 57 National Guard troops to Ukraine for NATO exercises, reminding them that Moldova is a neutral state. Ignoring the president’s order, the contingent left for Ukraine anyway. The president also signed a decree which said that Moldovan military forces would not be allowed to be sent abroad for military exercises, training or any similar events without approval from the president.

The present crisis is not the first public conflict between Dodon and the cabinet o ministers. Earlier, the government asked the UN General Assembly to consider the removal of Russian peacekeeping troops from the breakaway republic of Transnistria. Dodon called the initiative an “empty PR move.” The president and the cabinet have faced off over Russia repeatedly, the government proposing a series of unfriendly gestures, with the president, in turn, saying that he would like to bring the country closer to Moscow.

Dodon, often described by Western political observers as ‘pro-Russian’, won presidential elections in 2016, defeating his pro-West, pro-EU opponent Maia Sandu. Moldova’s parliament and government are dominated by the pro-EU Democratic Party of Moldova, a social democratic party closely associated with oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, and a collection of independent MPs.

Commenting on the political situation in the country, political observer Viktor Marakhovsky wrote that it would be more correct to call Dodon ‘pro-Moldovan’ than ‘pro-Russian’, because the pro-EU elites he is up against have effectively “privatized political power in exchange for international grants, figuratively speaking.” Not only do they seek to give up sovereignty to EU structures; some have spearheaded a campaign pushing for Romania’s absorption of Moldova, a campaign actively supported by Bucharest.

Marakhovsky thinks that Dodon’s best hope will be to organize a referendum to ask Moldovans to approve the expansion of the president’s powers, fresh elections and returning the subject of the history of Moldova to the country’s schools, replacing ‘the history of Romania’ subject presently being taught.

September 10, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment