Russia’s pragmatic game in a friendlier Moldova

Denis Cenusa

Op-ed No. 28/2019

The democratic space in Moldova is slowly recovering. However, it is uncertain if the ruling coalition, run by the Socialists and the ACUM bloc, is capable to preserve geopolitical neutrality and instill resilience in the institutions against the oligarchic influence. Following the goal to free the country from ‘state capture’, the coalition has inherited from its artificial character an inability to set long-term goals and a considerable portion of mutual mistrust. The survival of the coalition is under permanent questioning, including by the leaders of the coalition. The Prime Minister, Maia Sandu, speaks of ‘red lines’ (unspecified in public) that will eventually break the coalition once they are crossed by the Socialists (Unimedia, 31 July 2019). Likewise, acknowledging the geopolitical heterogeneity of the coalition, the President Igor Dodon calls it “very complicated” and unable to survive without the help of moderation and reciprocity (, 17 July 2019). To ensure longevity for the coalition, he has even advocated “an ideological and geopolitical moratorium” (Radio Free Europe, 18 June 2019).

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                In the context of Moldova's evolving political landscape, Russia appears to be playing a pragmatic game by carefully assessing the stability of the ruling coalition, comprising the Socialists and the ACUM bloc. While the coalition aims to safeguard Moldova's democratic space and independence from oligarchic influences, its artificial nature has resulted in challenges like mutual mistrust and the potential for internal strife. Prime Minister Maia Sandu has hinted at 'red lines' that could fracture the coalition, emphasizing the need for trust and common goals. Similarly, President Igor Dodon recognizes the coalition's complexity and advocates for an «ideological and geopolitical moratorium» to ensure its endurance.

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