Russian tank in Kyiv region of Ukraine – 05 April 2022 (Shutterstock)
By Blake Ramsey
As the Russian War in Ukraine continues, new developments regarding the war have begun to take place in other places in Eastern Europe.
Refugees from Ukraine have fled to parts of Eastern Europe, making the effects of the war more widely felt than just the Ukrainian-Russian region; but over the past month, Russia has showcased a greater willingness to act aggressively in other parts of Eastern Europe.
Earlier this month, Moldovan President Maia Sandu confirmed that the Moldovan intelligence community confirmed a Russian plot to oust the Moldovan government because of its pro-EU stance. This collaboration with Ukraine, which borders Moldova, was brought to their attention by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Additionally, Russia likely senses the weakness of the Moldovan government, as its Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned after economic troubles during her 18-month term.
While Gavrilita was pro-European Union (EU) herself, her resignation does little for Russian geopolitics, as the Moldovan president has the power to appoint a prime minister in her stead. Thus, to effectively cripple the pro-EU Moldovan government, Russia would have to oust the president and ruling government, installing a government through an artificially created protest.
Russia’s plan reportedly involves citizens of Russia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Belarus entering Moldova to attempt to stir action. This not only suggests Russia’s influence in the region but also geopolitical interest for other Eastern European countries.
Another recent development involves Moldova’s participation in the war. After being accused of having the plan to overthrow Moldova’s government, which Russia denies, Russia accused Ukraine of planning to attack Transnistria. Transnistria is a formerly Moldovan region that broke away through Russian separatists, similar to what happened in Ukrainian cities, Donbas and Luhansk.
Ukraine vigorously denies this claim, and Moldova believes them, expecting it to rather be a false-flag attack by Russian forces if it does indeed happen.
While these developments are new with very little information publicly on them, the recent Russian expansionism outside of the borders of Ukraine suggests that Russia does not plan to stop at Ukraine or to go to a “defensive” war in protecting regions already conquered – rather, Russia wants to continue to expand their reach and geopolitical influence within the region.
This has three vast implications for the continuing war: One, most significantly, it showcases that Russia plans on continuing its assault on Ukraine. Second, the geopolitics of being pro-EU vs pro-Russia will continue to play a major part in Eastern European countries as Russia seeks to gain further traction in this region. Third, and potentially most harrowing, if Russia does indeed manage to destabilize Moldova’s government, it will cause further fighting in a warring region and more refugees attempting to escape the fighting.