On August 7 media reported that US Naval Facilities Engineering Command Europe Africa Southwest Asia (NAVFAC EURAFSWA) plans to construct eight training facilities for military operations in urban terrain at the Bulboaca training base in Moldova, citing a pre-solicitation notice issued on June 25.
This development prompted Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to remark via his Facebook page that "the Americans start training of special operations forces of the Republic of Moldova in case of a new armed conflict with Transnistria."
Transnistria, also known as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, is a region with a predominantly ethnically Russian and Ukrainian population that seceded from the Soviet Republic of Moldova in 1990 due to fears of a possible reunion with Romania. The separation led to an armed conflict that ended in a ceasefire in July 1992, although the issue remains unresolved.
Russian political analyst Valery Korovin also told Radio Sputnik that Moldova may actually become yet another foothold for the US expansion in Eurasia.
"The Americans are rather frank. They openly publish their strategies, tenders and guidelines, implying that the world belongs to them. And any area that does not belong to the American sphere of influence is regarded as an empty space, a "black hole," as Zbigniew Brzezinski put it; unclaimed territory that needs to be explored and covered with American networks, and subjected to colonial administration. The United States is a new network empire which exploits any area it gets access to. So Moldova becomes yet another foothold for US expansion into the Eurasian continent," Korovin said.
Meanwhile, Moldovan President Igor Dodon also declared that he intends to look into this issue, and that this development may be a provocation by the Moldovan government.
"I consider it as yet another provocation of the Moldovan government. The construction of military facilities should be approved by the country's president, who is also the supreme commander. This issue has not been agreed with us. We will look into [the issue]," Dodon told reporters.
Rossiya Segodnya columnist Alexander Khrolenko pointed out, however, that the Moldovan president is at odds with his parliament. While Dodon himself seeks to have his country become a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, the distinctly pro-Western Moldovan government openly opposes this motion.
He also noted that the US has already invested $1.6 million in the renovation of the Bulboaca base which is located only a short distance from Tiraspol, and that there are reasons to believe that this installation may be employed "to train Moldovan saboteurs and special forces in the case of a new conflict with Transnistria."
And while fostering closer ties between NATO and Moldova may help the West “improve its position in the game with Russia,” as Polish web portal Onet.pl put it, it may not be a very good idea for the Moldovan leadership to sacrifice their national pride, neutrality and sovereignty to Brussels and Washington.
"The West won’t appreciate this kind of sacrifice, but would eagerly help turn peaceful and relatively prosperous Moldova into a war-torn Afghanistan or Donbass," he remarked.
Despite being constitutionally neutral, Moldova has been cooperating with NATO since joining the Partnership for Peace in 1994. The cooperation also extends to the Individual Partnership Action Plan, which Moldova became a part of in 2006.
Relations between NATO and Russia have deteriorated since 2014 against the background of the Ukrainian crisis and Crimea's reunification with Russia. During this time, NATO decided to suspend projects of practical civilian and military cooperation with Moscow, but maintained channels of political dialogue. Since the beginning of Ukrainian crisis, the organization has also been boosting its military presence in Eastern Europe. During July 2016 NATO summit in Warsaw, allies agreed to deploy four multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Also, on June 5 Montenegro officially became the 29th member of NATO despite nationwide protests.