News / Europe

After Ukraine, Will Russia Next Lean on Moldova and Georgia?

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) is seen at a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) is seen at a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
James Brooke
After Ukraine, seemingly under Russian pressure, made a U-turn last week on its road towards closer integragration with the European Union, analysts wonder if Moldova and Georgia will be the next former Soviet republics to face heat from the Kremlin.

The answer may come after European Union leaders meet Thursday and Friday in Vilnius, Lithuania, with leaders of six former Soviet Republics.

Two of those countries - Belarus and Azerbaijan - are not interested in signing free trade and political association agreements with the EU.  Two others - Ukraine and Armenia - recently backed out of signing, bowing to heavy Russian pressure.

Only the two remaining countries - Moldova and Georgia - say they will ignore Russian pressure and initial the EU agreements.

But, in a signal to all former Soviet republics, Russia is keeping the heat on Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin threatened to cancel all joint space and defense industry projects if Ukraine makes a move toward the European Union. And President Vladimir Putin reminded Ukrainians that they owe Russian banks $30 billion.

Now, analysts wonder if Moldova and Georgia are next.

Pressure

Pawel Wisniewski recently wrote a Carnegie Moscow Center report on the six nations of the EU's "Eastern Partnership." He says Moscow often uses Soviet-era gas pipelines to pressure countries in the region.

“The energy issues are the easiest way to pull strings for Russia in the Eastern Partnership region - and that is the first thing they always try to do,” he said in a telephone interview from Poland. “It was the case in Belarus, Armenia and Ukraine. It was the first step.”

This week, President Putin reminded Ukrainians that they also owe more than $1 billion in gas bills on a Russian supply contract that is to run to 2019.

Last month, Rogozin threatened to turn off the gas to Moldova.

Wisniewski predicted that the Kremlin now will lean on Moldova.

“Due to the fact Ukraine failed to be the poster child of the Eastern Partnership, Moldova took its role,” he said of Europe’s poorest nation.  Moldova has only 3.5 million people - less than 8 percent of Ukraine’s population.

Moldova is in a vulnerable position. The nation’s largest party is the Communist Party of Moldova, which faces a fragile coalition of pro-West parties. Russia controls a secessionist region of Moldova.

But Nadia Arbatova, a European expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that Moldova is safe. It never crossed the Kremlin’s red line - wanting to joining NATO.

“With Moldova, it is easier than with other countries, because from the very beginning Moldova declared its neutral status. It never raised the question of NATO membership,” she said in Moscow. “ And I don’t think Moldova will make U-turn. I think it will follow her European way.”

But Kirill Entin, a research fellow at the Moscow Center of European and International Studies, says recent history taught the Kremlin that NATO expansion often follows EU expansion.

“Initially, the enlargement of the EU was perceived by Russia as completely neutrally, if not favorably,” he said. “Because the enlargement of the European Union was opposed to the enlargement of NATO. Unfortunately, Russia proved to be wrong. The two processes went practically in a very simultaneous manner. The Baltic acceded to the EU, and acceded to NATO. And, of course, historically Russia cannot completely disassociate these two processes.”

Wisniewski says that after losing Ukraine, EU leaders should move forcefully in Vilnius. They should offer credits and visa-free travel to Moldova and Georgia, the two former Soviet republics still on the Western track.

“It should really be proposed to Moldova that it have a visa-free regime,” he said. “Because, without that, nobody will take the Eastern Partnership seriously any more.”

Coming days will tell if the EU will move to salvage its outreach program to these former republics of the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Obama Pledges 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace Christmas precisely because of its non-religious glamor and commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Babeouf from: Ireland
November 27, 2013 6:22 PM
'Wisniewski says that after losing Ukraine, EU leaders should move forcefully in Vilnius.' This would be bad advise from a European perspective but having used Wikipedia to find out about the Carnegie Center I see that the advice is from a US perspective. Of course Europeans are use to having US experts inform them of what they should do. And now know that other US experts spy on them continually to make sure they do it. The EU cannot afford to have its Russian policy formulated by the governments of countries that are either half a world away or are Russia phobic. Russia is woven into European history. The major part in the defeat of both Napoleon and Hitler's armies was played by the Russian army.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid