Romania. Who is the Boss?
BSSB.BE stratfor.com 15.04.2016
The American intent at this point is to maintain an independent, pro-Western Ukraine. That might simply not be possible. But the problem is that in having this goal, and pursuing it to some effect, the United States has convinced the Russians that it intends to break the Russian Federation by denying it an essential sphere of influence. The Russians have now concluded that whatever happens in this round in Ukraine, this process will not end.
- Whatever the American thoughts initially, they are realizing that the Russian threat to Ukraine is permanent, and that whatever happens in Ukraine, it will extend to countries like Romania. And Romania particularly matters to the Russians for two reasons. First, Romania is on the Black Sea, and the Black Sea is Russia’s southern maritime access to the world.
- That’s why they had to hold Sevastopol, and that’s why Odessa mattered so much. The Russians are aware that they need access to the Bosporus, controlled by the Turks. Still, American aircraft in Romania and Romanian ships in the Black Sea could complicate the Russians’ lives substantially, including their power in the Caucasus, since Georgia is on the Black Sea as well.
- It should be noted that boosting naval power is on the Romanian-American agenda, and both countries understand the challenge this creates for Russia.
- The second challenge is that Romania is potentially capable of producing significant hydrocarbons, including oil. The Russians’ only real card in this game is their energy sales to Europe. If they withhold it, the pressure is enormous and that economic pressure can be converted to political power. Germany’s attitude is influenced by several things, but energy dependence is certainly one of the main ones.
There is no simple energy alternative to Russia, but one can be cobbled together from several sources, if not to replace Russian energy then to mitigate its power. Romania has energy and other resources to contribute to this, and the public statement issued by the United States and Romania included a commitment by Romania to focus on energy production as a critical element of the partnership. This is not as easy as it sounds. Romania has a reputation abroad for enormous complexity and unreliability in its permitting process.
This is another point where Romania’s new strategy intersects with Russian interests. The Romanian view is that the Russians are extending their influence throughout the region, but particularly in Romania
. The deals are never unattractive to either side in business terms, but they also serve to put the Russians in a position to shape both energy policy and political dynamics. This what I call commercial imperialism: the use of deals, particularly in energy, to create blocking points within the political system when Russian interests are threatened. This is not confined to Romania; the Russians use this tool to shape the behavior of other countries. Though certainly far less unpleasant than Soviet occupation, it nevertheless poses a challenge to U.S. influence.
Dilemma about Moldova
There is another dimension to all of this, namely, Moldova. Moldova is ethnically Romanian but has been dominated by the Soviet Union and before that the Russian Empire. It is a place that survives by its wits and by accommodating Russian influence. It is an important place in the sense that if it were to be occupied by the Russians, Moscow would have access to the Prut River, with only a plain between it and Bucharest. If Moldova were to join Romania, then NATO would be on the Dniester River, less than a hundred miles from Odessa.
- But such calculations matter only in wartime, and the Russians are inherently weak. Their single advantage is energy exports, and that advantage depends on the world price of oil, where they make their real profits. They do not control that price and in the future it is possible that the United States, suddenly a massive producer of oil, will be pushing the price downward. If that happens, there is little left for them.
- But that won’t happen for a couple of years, if it happens at all. And the full strength of the United States will not be at Romania’s call for a few years, if it does become available. And Romania’s obligation to produce energy won’t manifest itself for a couple of years. So here in southeastern Europe, the Russians have a window of opportunity to create a framework that can withstand the winter that is coming.
- They cannot live without Ukraine. They cannot take Romania. With or without the Americans, the Russians aren’t strong enough for that. What they can do is manipulate, subvert, confuse and deflect. They need to undermine the Romanian entente with the United States, and they are skilled at the political maneuvering needed to do that. To many in Romania, Russia is near and strong, America far and indecisive. This was pointed out to me at one meeting. I replied: “In the 20th century, the United States has won three wars in Europe. How many have the Romanians won?”
The most remarkable thing about Romania and even Europe as a whole is that in spite of the historical reality that the United States wins European wars, there is a view of the United States that it is naive, unfocused and bumbling. This goes beyond this administration to every administration I can recall. And yet, it is the United States that decides the fate of Europe consistently.
The Romanians know this, but they still feel that the Russians are more clever and capable than the United States. I think the reason is that the Russians move with enormous subtlety and complexity. They do this to compensate for their weakness. The United States operates more simply. It can afford to; it is playing from strength. For now, the Romanians accept this, but their acceptance is fragile. It depends on political consistency on the part of the United States, but with great distance come options and the ability to change one’s mind. Romania is here and can’t go elsewhere. It can only change alliances and hope for the best, something both sides need to consider.
Geopolitics Nations Crisis
- eurasiareview.com – Is Moldova a twin of Ukraine? – The political crisis in Moldova goes back to 2005 when the country had become a part of the Associations Agreement with the European Union. According to Iuri Vitneanschi, a city council member, “the Moldavian people were brainwashed by the pro-European propaganda while the government announced a pro-European political course for the country”. However, the reality the reality proved to be different from promising slogans.
- voltairenet.org/ – Multipolar world with media hegemony? – States struggling against imperialism are probably not sufficiently aware of the importance of having non-aligned media. Yet, obviously, Russia Today, Press TV, Telesur and Al Mayadeen are better at defending freedom than other weapons. For these are indeed weapons we are talking about. The first magic tool that the US uses for world domination is the dollar. The word “magic” is not just hyperbole; the dollar is indeed a magical creation since the Federal Reserve can create unlimited amounts in its computers, and the world sees these dollars as having an effective value, with an ulterior motive: petrodollars.
- stratfor.com/analysis/ – Who will get Moldova. A Roulette Wheel – Like Ukraine, Moldova is both weak and divided. Unlike Ukraine, Moldova does not have traditional or ethnic ties to Russia; it is ethnically and linguistically Romanian. This, along with Moldova’s small size and strategic location, is a main factor in the weakness of the state and its ability to balance between external power