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

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid