By Athena Papakosta

Today, Russia’s gaze will turn with more attention to Moldova as, a few kilometers away from the capital, Chisinaumore than 40 leaders of Europe – beyond the European Union – are going to be present for the second Meeting of the European Political Community.

The goal is to send the same message again: “We remain united against Russia’s war against Ukraine.”

The Summit will take place in Moscow’s shadow as the Kremlin considers Moldova, a former member of the Soviet Union, part of its sphere of influence. But Moldova, the poorest state on European soil, chooses to look to the West and, a year ago, applied to join the European Union and was granted candidate status, along with Ukraine.

“The presence of 50 heads of state right now in Moldova, in Chisinau, sends a very strong message. Moldova is in the heart of Europe. Moldova is Europe” emphasized upon her arrival in the country, yesterday, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announcing at the same time a new package of supporting measures for the country.

Moscow’s concern is palpable and insists that the hegemonic intentions of the United States and its allies in Europe are now evident. In this context, last Monday, the head of the Defense Committee in the Upper House of the Russian Parliament, Viktor Bondarev, called for the strengthening of Russia’s military presence in Transnistria citing the growing influence of the United States in the region.

Already Moldova, which geographically lies between Romania and Ukraine, has expressed concern that it will be Moscow’s next target and insists that the only reason this has not happened yet is Ukrainian resistance. Meanwhile, last February the country’s president, Maya Sandu, based on documents seized by the Ukrainian intelligence services, accused Russia of inciting a coup to overthrow the Moldovan government.

Today, the president of the country of 2.6 million states that this Summit is “a decisive confirmation of our unwavering commitment to peace, a strong condemnation of Russia’s invasion and Moldova’s continued solidarity with Ukraine.”

At the same time, Sandu hopes to start accession talks with Brussels as soon as possible, aiming for Moldova to join the Union by 2030 with the breakaway, pro-Russian region of Transnistria.

But the frozen conflict in the east and along the border with Ukraine complicates the prospect of its accession talks with the European Union starting as soon as possible as at this point on the map, 50 km from the capital, there are about 2,000 Russian troops .

But Chisinau insists that Moldova, because of its geographical position, can be a shield against Russian aggression. This is what the thousands of Moldovan citizens who demonstrated in favor of the prospect of their country’s accession to the European Union wanted to show on May 21st, and this is what Maya Sadu will seek today as well, with the aim of giving the “green light” for the start of accession talks by hosting in the country 50 heads of state.

Analysts, however, are not optimistic that he will achieve this goal by renewing the appointment for December when EU leaders are scheduled to return to the issue.