Listening to Nicholas Kristof on Morning Joe a few minutes ago, he has warned with authority that Moldova is likely next on the list of Russia’s target acquisitions. Russia isn’t finished with the Ukraine either. Kristof is a Pulitzer winning New York Times reporter, an academic scholar whose family roots began in Armenia and then Romania. His Polish name is Krzysztofowicz. In his article in the New York times a couple of days ago he said.
“Think of Moldova as “the next Ukraine,” for Russia may be about to take a bite out of this little country, nestled beside Ukraine and Romania and often said to be the poorest country in Europe. Russia already has bullied Moldova mercilessly for trying to join the European Union, imposing sanctions such as a block on Moldova’s crucial wine exports. Russia is even threatening to cut off the natural gas on which Moldovans depend.
“We hope that you will not freeze,” one senior Russian official publicly warned Moldovans.
Yet the valiant Moldovan government refuses to buckle. It is determined to join the European Union and forge bonds with the West.
“There is no alternative for us but to pursue European integration,” Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, a former diplomat, told me in perfect English in his office here in the capital, Chisinau. “We are European! No one should contest this.”
It is hard to say what Putin will do next, but it is apparent that he and the Russian government are head strong in completing their acquisition of lost Russian communities that fell off when the USSR collapsed. Russia is taking this moment of perceived weakness and their perceived strength to complete the act of consolidation.
“Russia wants to start third world war, says Ukraine
Prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk accuses Moscow of acting like a gangster by aiming to occupy Ukraine 'militarily and politically'”
Here is a list of factors to consider about Russian aggression.
1. Russia’s leverage is fossil fuel needed by Europe to support national economies.
“Global oil reserves and fossil fuel consumption
The world is showing no sign of weaning itself off fossil fuels: in the 28-year span covered by the BP data below, worldwide reserves of oil fell only twice – in 1998 and 2008
Oil has been the world's fossil fuel of choice since the late 1960s and our taste for it doesn't seem likely to diminish in the short term. Oil companies are still keen to secure any undiscovered reserves while continuing to be a powerful lobbying presence.
You may think that with pressing concerns over peak oil and global warming, the world would be slowly weaning itself off the energy-rich liquid. But in the 28-year span covered by the BP data below, worldwide reserves fell only twice – in 1998, and a decade later in 2008.
Opec nations control the lion's share, with 76% of the world's reserves. Interestingly, many of the Opec countries' proven reserves have barely changed in the past 20 years, despite massive exporting activity.
The largest percentage growth in oil wealth is in Vietnam, with a 39% surge in its proven oil reserves from 2007-08. This newfound wealth corresponds to 1.3bn barrels, which may sound like a lot, but would feed the world demand for less than three weeks (17 days) at 2008 levels of consumption.
Oil consumption fell by 0.29% from 2007-08, while its more polluting relation coal saw a 3% increase in its use. Reasons for coal's recent rise include the low price of emissions trading permits and the fuel's increasing promotion as key for 'energy security'.
2. Russia believes that history is on its side in regrouping lost territories.
“7 parts of Russia that other countries could call theirs
If Crimea ‘historically’ belongs to Russia, these other regions ‘historically’ don’t.
The rise and fall of empires, two World Wars and the collapse of the Soviet Union mean the map of Europe has been redrawn more times than Russian President Vladimir Putin has posed shirtless. And anyone who claims they owned anywhere first would, if they were being entirely honest, probably have to admit that someone else got there before them.
That was Putin’s logic for the Russian annexation of Crimea. It used to be ours. Therefore it always was, therefore it still is.
Well, by the same token, several other countries could take bites out of Russia. The world’s largest country didn’t start off that way. Just like every other empire, it invaded, conquered, negotiated and seized the lands it now calls its own.
Some of those lands are fiercely disputed to this day, some are the subjects of uneasy settlements, and some have long ago been relinquished to Russia’s unchallenged control. But here’s a list of the most important Russian territories that other countries could, if they chose, try to claim back.”
3. Russia perceives that the US is weakened by having been overextended and war weary in the Middle East.
“WAR-WEARINESS AS AN EXCUSE
By William Kristol | March 14, 2014 | The Weekly Standard
Are Americans today war-weary? Sure. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been frustrating and tiring. Are Americans today unusually war-weary? No. They were wearier after the much larger and even more frustrating conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. And even though the two world wars of the last century had more satisfactory outcomes, their magnitude was such that they couldn’t help but induce a significant sense of war-weariness. And history shows that they did.
So American war-weariness isn’t new. Using it as an excuse to avoid maintaining our defenses or shouldering our responsibilities isn’t new, either. But that doesn’t make it admirable.”
4. Russia perceives that it can offset its loss with the EU and Western markets with new found opportunity in territories that are enemies of the West and otherwise neglected by the US and Europe.
It isn’t all that clear about new market opportunities for Russia as they encounter corruption and black marketeering too.
“Kazakhstan: Russia Pressing for Clean-Up at China Border Crossing
May 5, 2011 - 12:20pm, by Richard Orange
A Chinese police officer checks the passport of a truck driver at the Khorgos land port between China and Kazakhstan. Because of the new customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russia wants to tackle the black market operations at the border, where a criminal ring earned more than $5 million a week by illegally importing cars. (Photo: Guang Niu/Getty)
A customs union is still several months away from taking effect, but Russia already seems to be exerting influence over Kazakhstan’s trade. Concerned that its own market will become flooded with smuggled Chinese goods, Moscow is pressuring Astana to tighten controls at the Kazakhstani-Chinese border before July 1, when Russia is due to remove its checkpoints along its frontier with Kazakhstan.
Highlighting the existing problem with tariff evasion, Kazakhstani authorities on April 28 arrested the head of customs at Khorgos, the main entry point for imports from China, and a deputy head of the KNB, Kazakhstan’s successor to the KGB. The arrests were part of an effort to smash a $130-million smuggling ring. Arrest warrants have been issued for 14 others.”
5. Russia believes that it can bolster its power through alignment enemies of the US and its allies.
“Russia Sending Air Defense Missiles to Syria
File photo. LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images (MOSCOW) -- Russia will proceed with plans to provide Syria with an advanced air defense system, in part to prevent foreign “hot heads” from getting involved in the country’s conflict, a top Russian diplomat said Tuesday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov confirmed plans to deliver the S-300 system, but would not confirm when it would arrive. The S-300, one of the world’s most advanced air defense systems, could make it harder for foreign forces to carry out airstrikes inside Syria, as Israel has done this year, or to impose a no-fly zone, as some members of Congress have called for.