Moldova’s Partition may be imminent. While the U.S. Embassy in Moscow denied that American spooks and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) intend to divide that tiny country, the denial itself was enough to convince most Russian and Moldovan/Rumanian patriots that the plan is probably already under way.

The State Department was reacting to a September 23 article in Izvestiya, which claimed that talks between Russia and Moldova on the fate of the breakaway “Dniester Moldovan Republic” had broken down because of a “secret plan” to hand Moldova over to Rumania and the Dniester region to Ukraine. (The “Dniester Republic,” sometimes referred to as Transdnistria, is a predominately Slavic, Russian-speaking region. In 1940, it was fused with the former Rumanian province of Bessarabia to form the Soviet Republic of Moldova.)

According to Izvestiya, the plan would involve annexation of the Dniester region by a nationalist Ukraine. The paper also implied that the West is backing the resurgent Ukrainian nationalist movement in pro-NATO Western Ukraine as a prelude to further NATO expansion. As it did in Kosovo, however, NATO will exploit nationalism only tactically: The real aim is the unconditional removal of the Russian 14th Army from the Dniester region, paving the way for an eventual NATO military presence. Meanwhile, a suitably tamed and reunited Rumania would be absorbed into the OSCE and eventually the European Union. The price, of course, would be the eradication of a distinct Rumanian identity.

Izvestiya also claimed that the West had forced the delay in the Russian-Moldovan talks because of concerns over a plan (advanced by former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov) to transform Moldova into a confederation, leaving the Moldovan state intact while granting the Dniester region autonomy. Under the American initiative, however, Russia would carry out a phased withdrawal of the 14th Army, financed by the OSCE.

The Primakov plan, which appears to be supported by both the Moldovans and the Russians (at least for now), is strongly opposed by NATO: Russia would still maintain ties with an autonomous Dniester Republic, ties that would likely include a guarantee of Dniester self-determination should Moldova decide to rejoin Rumania. Moreover, the region would probably seek admittance to the Russian-Belarussian union under such circumstances, thus maintaining Russian influence in the region—which U.S. foreign policymakers do not want.

Another Russian newspaper, Kommersant, pointed out that the U.S. Congress had recently allocated $45 million in “military assistance” to the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. The apparent purpose of this aid is to weaken Russian influence in those states and to strengthen a Western-oriented regional bloc.

The net effect of the NATO/OSCE/E.U. machinations would be to isolate Russia by creating, on the periphery of the former Soviet empire, a NATO-dominated buffer zone that just so happens to include a number of states acting as gas and oil transit lines. The importance of these states will only increase as deposits of oil in the Caspian Sea are developed. Small wonder, then, that an increasing number of Russians view the West with suspicion and hostility, NATO’s ultimate objective is to weaken, if not dismember, Russia.