And it doesn't appear that Vladimir Putin's aggressive international policy will be ending there. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof says that it's time to "think of Moldova as 'the next Ukraine'" ("Moldova, the Next Ukraine," April 23, 2014).
Moldova has the dubious distinction of being considered Europe's poorest country. Many Moldovans, including many in the government, see closer ties with Europe as the way out of national poverty. Like its neighbor Ukraine, however, Moldova's European overtures have not been kindly received by Putin's Russia.
Bloomberg News' Olga Tanas reported on Russia's open threats to Moldova's attempts to grow closer to the European Union, saying that "Russia may raise trade barriers against Moldova if the former Soviet republic follows Ukraine in seeking an association agreement with the European Union" ("Russia Said to Plan Retaliation if Moldova Boosts EU Ties," May 21, 2014.)
Russia has reportedly even threatened to cut off Moldova's crucial supply of natural gas, which many Moldovans use to heat their homes. This scenario should sound very familiar if you've been following the Ukraine-Russia drama after the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych, who many Ukrainians considered too pro-Russian.
Much like parts of Eastern Ukraine, Moldova has its own separatist region: Transnistria. This small area of Moldova rests on the eastern border with Ukraine, and much like Eastern Ukrainians, many Transnistrians are native Russian speakers.
Will Englund wrote in The Washington Post that "Putin said [recently] that his country reserves the right to stand up for ethnic Russians living outside its borders" ("Transnistria, the Breakaway Region of Moldova, Could Be Russia's Next Target," March 24, 2014). This is very similar language to the justifications Putin has used in annexing Crimea and promoting separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
Russia's tense relations with the European Union and the United States are being further exacerbated by the Ukrainian crisis and a potential Moldovan crisis. There are indeed "rumors of war," as Jesus taught His disciples these would be on the rise in the times leading up to His return (Matthew 24:6).
Jesus' prophetic warnings, along with all the words of Scripture, were not given to us to make us fret or worry about world events, but so that we could have access to "all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (1 Peter 1:3). As we watch world events unfold, we should be convicted of God's truthfulness and promises of salvation and restoration in the days to come. (Sources: The New York Times, Bloomberg News, The Washington Post.)