Is Moldova Part of NATO and Will Putin’s Russian Forces Invade It Next?

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Mar. 2 2022, Published 12:06 p.m. ET

Even though the war between Ukraine and Russia is escalating, the global community is guessing about Russian president Vladimir Putin’s next move. From nuclear blackmail to warnings about World War III, Russia has kept global leaders on edge. Now, there are reports that Putin might be planning to invade Moldova after Ukraine. Is Moldova part of NATO?

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Moldova is a former Soviet Union country. Putin sees the former Soviet territories including Ukraine as a sphere of Russia’s influence. He has been vehemently opposing greater integration between them and the West.

Moldova has a complex history.

Moldova is an eastern European country that's landlocked and surrounded by Romania and Ukraine. The region has a complex history. Romania wasn't part of the Soviet Union and if anything, it was part of the Axis powers and fought Russian forces.

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Moldova was formerly known as Bessarabia and was annexed by Russia from the Ottoman Empire in 1812. However, the region became a part of Greater Romania after World War I. In 1940, Romania ceded Moldova to the Soviet Union of which it remained a part until the fall of the Soviet Union.

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Moldova declared independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991 and the next year it also joined the UN.

Moldova isn't a NATO ally despite being part of the UN.

For now, Moldova isn't a NATO ally. However, some of the former Soviet countries have been inducted into NATO including the Baltic states of Estonia and Lithuania. Also, many of the former Soviet bloc countries have gradually joined NATO.

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In fact, NATO's eastward expansion is what Putin has been opposing. The defining feature of NATO is Article 5, which is the principle of collective defense, according to which an attack on one country is an attack on all of the members.

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Does Putin plan to attack Moldova?

Rumors of Russia invading Moldova cropped up after images of Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko standing in front of a battle map appeared in the media. The images appear to show a planned invasion of Moldova. Some of the incursions mentioned on the map have already taken place, which has led to fears that Moldova is next in Putin’s mind.

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Lukashenko is among the staunchest Putin allies in his invasion of Ukraine. There have been reports that Belarus also plans to send its forces to fight alongside Russian troops.

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Moldova is helping Ukrainian refugees.

There has been a massive exodus of people from Ukraine. Despite being a small and relatively poor country, Moldova has accepted thousands of Ukrainian refugees. It's also offering jobs to some of the refugees. It looks like a win-win situation because Moldova has been battling a severe labor shortage amid massive outwards immigration over the last decade.

Will NATO ever induct Moldova?

The global geopolitics and world order have been altered with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. While there have been many wars since World War II, Europe hasn’t seen a conflict of this severity since then.

The region’s geopolitics has already changed and Germany has announced a massive increase in its defense budget. Given the belligerence of Russia and China, more countries might now look to join security alliances like NATO.

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