The Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs for Romania, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine met in Bucharest on 13 April 2023. The three eastern European countries met to “discuss the security situation in our region and the prospects for further co-operation” on infrastructure concerns, according to their joint statement.
The three nations agreed that they would benefit from “stronger political, economic, infrastructure, security, defence and cultural links” as they seek to form a trilateral format for dialogue and co-operation.
Based on the substantive results of the first trilateral meeting in Odesa in September 2022, they agreed to organise, at the earliest opportunity, a new round of trilateral talks between the Foreign Ministers, with the participation of the ministers responsible for energy and infrastructure.
Energy and infrastructure security
The basis of their desire to co-operate in these areas comes from the war that Russia has waged in Ukraine. Of course, Russia’s war in Ukraine has impacted the world: the three nations are affected directly, the US from a geostrategic perspective and the rest of western Europe with an unending energy crisis.
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“Russia continues to use a range of hybrid tactics meant to further intimidate Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and other countries in the region”, the three nations assert in their joint statement.
Fostering co-operation in areas such as energy and infrastructure follows the steps taken by the European Union and Nato last month, in which a joint task force was launched by the two organisations to ensure the Resilience of Critical Infrastructure on 16 March.
Eager to join the EU and Nato, Ukraine and Moldova model themselves after EU and Nato countries on the continent, as the three eastern neighbours outline their concern to sustain themselves in these two critical areas. The trilateral co-operation appears to serve as a way of pressing their western counterparts to speed up the process of their formal induction into both organisations.
The statement is also timely as it follows the US Department of Defense’s leaked documents concerning Ukraine’s air defence ammunition depletion, which is said to contain the department’s prediction that will run out in early May. Coinciding with this, the statement brings a sense of urgency alongside its ostensible sense of resilience.
EU and Nato membership
Their statement gives some sense of this when it states: “The enlargement of the EU as well as enhanced co-operation with Nato are pivotal, and we will further make every effort with a view to a continued strong European and Euro-Atlantic support for the region”.
This assertion hints at their argument that strength lies in numbers, as the three nations urge for political support beyond the indirect military support that the west has so far provided.
If this is not abundantly clear, they hammer the point home, stating that they “are looking forward for the European Commission’s evaluation of the progress achieved and decision on starting already this year accession negotiations of Ukraine and Republic of Moldova with the EU”.