Whatever the outcome of Russia's unwarranted war against Ukraine, its implications for Georgia and Moldova are serious and immediate.
For decades, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova have been in the same geopolitical boat, living uneasily next to a neighbor with a long history of violence. They were bullied by Russia, changed governments despite or because of Russia’s intervention in their domestic affairs, and had problems with democratic development and security. What set them apart was that they always remained much more democratic and European-minded than Russia. All three have very pro-European populations, where the support for Western integration is over 70%. All three also have an illegal Russian military presence in their occupied territories (Crimea, Donbas, Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia). The Kremlin sees all three as part of its sphere of influence and an integral part of Putin’s geopolitical project to restore the Soviet Union.
In the 10 days following Russia’s invasion, all three applied to become members of the EU, prompted by this act of aggression and the realization that they lack any explicit security guarantees against renewed Russian attacks.
The question now is whether this trio will suffer the same geopolitical fate, whether they will stay on the civilized side of the iron curtain about to descend across Central and Eastern Europe, or whether the West will have enough power, will, resources and fortitude to keep Georgians and Moldovans away from Russia’s murderous bear hug.
Depending on how the military situation in Ukraine evolves and what sort of diplomatic settlement ends the Russia-Ukraine war, Moldova and Georgia face three strategic scenarios. All three represent dilemmas, and none can be solved without a qualitatively different approach from the Western allies, along with new and robust commitments.
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