Moldova claims Russia sparking unrest

Moldova claims Russia sparking unrest

Moldova is accusing Russia of encouraging a coup that could drag it into the war in neighbouring Ukraine.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu says Russia had plainclothes agents stimulating unrest, echoing similar warnings from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Vladimir Putin claims Ukraine is planning an assault on the Russian-occupied enclave of Transnistria in Moldova, raiding fears that he is creating a pretext for an invasion.

Transnistria broke away from Moldova in the 1990s and houses more than 1,600 Russian soldiers and has one of the largest arms depots in what was the Soviet Union.

Impoverished Moldova with a population of 2.6 million and a sizeable Russian minority has taken a pro-western turn in recent years, angering Putin.

US President Joe Biden met Sandu in Warsaw last week, where he reportedly reaffirmed support for Moldova’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

This month Zelensky said Ukrainian intelligence intercepted a Russian plan to destabilise an already volatile situation in Moldova.

The recent resignation of the prime minister followed a period of crises, influenced by rising gas prices and inflation. Moldova’s new prime minister has continued the government’s pro-European alignment while pro-Russian demonstrations have since taken place in Chisinau, the capital, backed by a pro-Kremlin political party.

“It’s clear that these threats from Russia and the appetite to escalate the war towards us is very high,” Iulian Groza of the Institute for European Policies and Reforms told CNN.

“Moldova is the most affected country after Ukraine [by] the war. We are still a small country, which has still an under-developed economy, and that creates a lot of pressure,” he said.

Putin this week purportedly revoked a 2012 foreign policy decree that in part recognised Moldovan independence.

The Russian armed forces will “respond” to any provocation by Ukrainian forces in Transnistria, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Russia’s defence ministry claimed that Ukraine planned to attack Transnistria after staging a false-flag operation.

Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Galuzin said the west had told the Moldovan government to stop all cooperation with Transnistria’s authorities.

Picture credit: Flickr

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