The Kremlin said on Monday (20 February) that Russia’s relations with Moldova were very tense and it accused Moldovan leaders of pursuing an anti-Russian agenda, one week after Chisinau said it had foiled a Russian coup attempt.
Moldova’s parliament last week approved a new pro-Western government after the previous administration resigned en masse following months of political and economic scandals.
The new government, led by Prime Minister Dorin Recean, has vowed to pursue a pro-European path and also called for the demilitarisation of the Transnistria region – a Moscow-backed separatist region which borders Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Russia was acting “responsibly” with regard to peackeeping forces it has stationed in the breakaway region and warned Moldova against inflaming the situation further.
“Our relations with Moldova are already very tense,” Peskov told reporters. “The leadership always focuses on everything anti-Russian, they are slipping into anti-Russian hysteria.”
Moldova’s President Maia Sandu – as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – said earlier this month they had intelligence which suggested Russia was plotting a coup to “overthrow” the Moldovan authorities and sow chaos in the small former Soviet republic.
Moldova’s President Maia Sandu accused Russia on Monday (13 February) of planning to use foreign saboteurs to bring down her country’s leadership, stop it from joining the EU, and instrumentalise it in the war against Ukraine.
Sandu’s comments come only days …
Russia has denied those claims, but Moscow has bristled at the possibility of Moldova – which is sandwiched between Ukraine and NATO member Romania – joining the European Union.
Moldova — along with Ukraine — last year was granted candidate status to join the EU, setting it on the first step of a years-long process.
EU sanctions on pro-Russia oligarchs?
Moldova urged the EU on Monday to impose sanctions on oligarchs it accuses of helping Russia to destabilise the country.
“It is not the first time Moldova faces such situations in the last year,” Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said on Monday at a meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
“There have been several instances of such concerns, it is just this time they are more public.”
He added that “the risks are there, but Moldova has a good record in fending them off.”
Popescu called on the 27-nation bloc to place “corrupt oligarchs and politicians who, with Russia, are trying to destabilise Moldova” on an asset freeze and visa ban blacklist.
Last year, the United States and Britain imposed sanctions on Moldovan magnates Ilan Shor and Vladimir Plahotniuc, who fled the country in 2019 in the face of corruption charges.
European diplomats said that the EU was considering sending cyber experts to Moldova to help the country ward off hacking attacks from Moscow.
Over the past year, the war in neighbouring Ukraine has also repeatedly caused multiple security concerns in the pro-European country as debris from Russian missiles landed on Moldovan territory after traversing its skies.
Popescu said “a key priority for us is to make our airspace and our society safer by accessing air surveillance equipment and air defence equipment”.
He urged Western powers to keep sending weapons and support to help Ukrainian forces fight back against Russia’s invasion as that was “also defending Moldova”.
“Help Ukraine as much as everyone can, as long as Ukraine needs,” he said.
“This is the best investment in a stable Europe, stable peace and a stable and peaceful Moldova.”