Friday, March 31

Russian ambitions beyond Ukraine force its neighbors to rethink their alliances

The Ukrainian leaders have not stopped repeating it since the Russian troops invaded their territory on February 24: “Russia has no intention of stopping at Ukraine. He neither intends nor will. He wants to go further, ”said the Ukrainian president a month ago, Volodymyr Zelensky. That thesis was already resonating strongly in the offices of the NATO and the capitals of post soviet spacebut has gained integers as a result of the declarations this Friday of the number two of the Russian Armed Forces in your Central District. The general Rustam Minnekayev has stated that his army not only intends occupy eastern and southern Ukrainebut has in its sights Transnistriathe secessionist and pro-Russian region of moldova.

It is not clear whether Minnekayev is free verse or has expressed the official position of the kremlin, which, for the moment, has not commented on the matter. But his words shed a little light in the tunnel of opacity Y disinformation of the regimen Vladimir Putinthe same one who said he would not invade Ukraine, the same one who continues to refer to this full-scale invasion as a “special military operation” or the same one who has said that in Bucha not a single civilian was harmed. Instead, Minnekayev seems to have spoken with crystal clarity when he said that, “since the beginning of the second phase of this special operation”, “one of the objectives of the Russian army is to seize the full control of the donbas and of southern ukraine”.

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“That would establish a land corridor to Crimea and at the same time would affect vital interests of the Ukrainian economy, the black sea ports from which their products are exported agricultural and metallurgical products”, he said during a forum of the Russian military industry in the Sverdlovsk region. Those ambitions have yet to materialize because his army does not completely control any of the mentioned regions. Nor in the south, where he has not yet launched the assault on odessathe tourist pearl par excellence of Ukraine, has not even achieved control of Mikolaiv.

But he’s making a move to consolidate their positions and give them one patina of legitimacy. The Ukrainian authorities have been repeating for days that Russia plans a “referendum” in the southern regions of Kherson Y Zaporiyathe same tool you used in 2014 on crimea as a first step to annex the peninsula. His plans, however, would not end there, according to General Minnekayev. “The control of southern Ukraine is another door to Transnistriawhere there is also evidence that the Russian-speaking population is being oppressed”, he added in a few words collected by the Tass agency.

The disputed status of Transnistria

This argument is similar to one of those invoked by Putin to invade Ukraine (he spoke of “genocide” in Donbas) and, years before, two regions of Georgia. Russia already intervened in Transnistria in the early 1990s to support the separatist forces from this Moldovan region and borders Ukraine, which declared independence from Moldova in 1990, which led to a war with Chisinau closed two years later with a ceasefire. Neither Moldova nor the vast majority of countries in the world have recognized that independence, and last month the Council of Europe designated Transnistria What territory under russian occupation. The Kremlin army has 1,500 soldiers stationed there.

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As Ukraine and Georgia have done since this war began, Moldova has formally launched its application to join the European Union and, at the same time, the debate has resumed in the country to propose a possible reunification with Romania, which is a member of NATO. A scenario that would provide the small country of three million inhabitants with the security that it currently does not have.

Finland and Sweden discuss joining NATO

More dramatic is the geopolitical overturn what are they considering Finland Y Sweden in the aftermath of the Ukrainian tragedy, two countries with a long tradition of neutrality in the military field. The first, which shares more than 1,300 kilometers of border with Russia, has already parliamentary debate started to determine your possible NATO accession, now supported in the polls by the majority of the Finnish population. “Our security environment has changed dramatically since the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” the Finnish foreign minister said a few days ago. Pekka Haavisto.

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In Sweden, things are going a little slower, but the path is the same and its population has also come to support membership by a narrow margin, a considerably larger margin if it is done in unison with Finland. Even the ruler social democratic party from Olof Palme, historically opposed to joining NATO, is rethinking its position. These are two of the seismic consequences of this war, two of the shots in the back of Putin, whose government has already warned that there will be “political and military consequences” if both countries end up joining the Atlantic Alliance.

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