Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From May 7 to May 13, 2022

Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch Team: Clelia Frouté, Victor Martin, Elisabeth Nagy.

05/09-10/2022: The UN Secretary General visits Moldova. -Victor Martin-

On May 9, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, visited Moldova and met with Natalia Gavrilita, the Moldovan Prime Minister. The Secretary-General first called on the Moldovan government and the secessionist government of Transnistria to work together and “show responsibility” in the face of tensions that have been rising over the past two weeks. At the end of their meeting, Antonio Guterres also said that “Moldova is at the forefront of peace and stability in the world. The Moldovan Prime Minister also insisted that the risk of the conflict spreading to Moldova is very low

On the second day of his trip, Antonio Guterres met with Moldovan President Maia Sandu. During this meeting, they discussed, among other things, how the UN and Moldova will work together in the future to support “the realization of our national priorities in the field of human rights and development, strengthening the rule of law and democracy, and will help improve the living conditions of our citizens,” said Maia Sandu. The UN Secretary General thanked the Moldovan President for the solidarity her country has shown towards Ukrainian refugees and assured her that the UN would continue to support Moldova in its reception efforts.

05/10/2022: The Moldovan Ministry of Defense speaks out on the risks of the extension of the Ukrainian conflict in Moldova. -Victor Martin-

On May 10, during a hearing in the U.S. Senate, Avril Haines, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, stated that Russia’s goal is still to create a land bridge from the Donbass to the Moldovan border through southern Ukraine.

The Ministry of Defense of Moldova, following these words, reassured the Moldovan population that “the competent institutions of our country the Republic of Moldova are still studying the full range of scenarios that aim to develop security in the region, and the accumulation of information does not indicate the risk of spreading the war on our territory.

The Ministry’s statement also stresses the need not to distort the words of the Director of U.S. National Intelligence and not to speculate on what they might imply for Moldova. This could create “anxiety and fear in society”.

05/10/2022: The popularity of pro-Russian parties in Moldova is not impacted by the war in Ukraine. -Victor Martin-

On May 10, CBS Research, a polling institute, published an opinion poll on the popularity of political parties and certain political figures.

The poll shows that the Solidarity Action Party (PAS), the party of Moldova’s current President, Maia Sandu, remains the leading political party and would receive 29.1% of the vote if elections were held next Sunday. The President remains the most trusted political figure (23.8%) ahead of Igor Dodon (16%), the pro-Russian former President.

Nevertheless, the three pro-Russian parties in Parliament have slightly increased voting intentions, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and attempts to destabilize Moldova: The Communists and Socialists Electoral Bloc (BECS) is polled at 27.7% (up from 27.17% in 2021) and the right-wing National Șor Party would garner 7.8% of the vote (up from 5.74% in 2021).

The poll also shows a drop in the popularity of Vladimir Putin, the Russian President: 48% of Moldovans do not trust him at all. On the other hand, 36.4% trust him or strongly trust him against 35.5% for Emmanuel Macron, the French President, 36.6% for the Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, and 38.4% for Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President.

05/10/2022: Defence Council meeting with President Alexander Lukashenko on the Belarusian Defence Commission. Clélia Frouté

The Belarusian Defence Council met on May 10, 2022, at which President Alexander Lukashenko spoke about the direction to take in terms of replenishment of weapons and military equipment. It emerged that Belarus intends to learn from the situation of the Russian army in Ukraine.

He stressed the usefulness of logistic support and telecommunications, to develop at best in addition to a rearmament of the most modern possible. To do this, the Belarusian Presidency relies primarily on national military-industrial production which, according to him, is able to supply some of the necessary equipment. The Belarusian president highlighted the companies AGAT, Peleng, BelOMO optics for automated control and control equipment, MZKT for vehicles. Alexander Lukashenko emphasised that the troops receive the latest anti-aircraft missile systems «Tor-M2», the radar stations «Adversary», «Sopka», «Vostok», «Rosa», the electronic warfare complexes «Groza», as well as lightly armoured Cayman vehicles and upgraded T-72 tanks. Alexander Lukashenko also mentioned the alignment to Vladimir Putin regarding the choice of modernization of the Belarusian Defence system.

This is being done in a context where Belarus is hosting Russian troops for the offensive from its border in northern Ukraine, and when the presence of NATO troops in Poland and the three Baltic countries has increased in recent months.

05/12/2022: Meeting between Russian Ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.  – Clelia Frouté

A meeting was held between Russian Ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. In keeping with the topics discussed at the meeting with the Belarusian Defence Council two days earlier, this meeting aimed to strengthen the military-industrial import partnerships from Belarus to Russia. The Belarusian president took the opportunity to highlight the companies BelOMO, Peleng, and others affiliated in the fields of information technology, computer science, but also in the development of space technologies. They took the opportunity to once again secure the common position of the two countries vis-à-vis NATO, and concluded the exchange by announcing that the issues of new military contracts would be concluded during the next Forum of the Regions to be held in Grodno on 23 and 24 June.

 12/05/2022 : Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama accuses Bulgaria of obstructing the entry of North Macedonia into the EU. – Elisabeth Nagy

In an interview on May 12, 2022, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama accused Bulgaria of voluntarily obstructing the entry of North Macedonia into the EU, also blocking Albania. For several years Skopje and Tirana have been moving forward in tandem to enter the EU, a project now halted by Sofia’s veto, whose vote is necessary for entry. This quarrel between Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia has had political, economic and cultural implications since the breakup of Yugoslavia.  Bulgarian Prime Minister Edi Rama says that Albania will not take further steps towards integration if things do not change. Recall that Albania has had candidate status to enter the EU since 2014. 

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