Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Moldova concerned about Russian destabilization operations

Moldova’s pro-European executive fears the destabilization operations attributed to the Kremlin. While the opposition party Shor, suspected of being subservient to Moscow, multiplies the demonstrations, Anatolie Nosatii, the Minister of Defense of this small country of 2.7 million inhabitants wedged between Romania and Ukraine, denounced Monday “disinformation” operations and “provocations” as part of a hybrid war waged by Russia to overthrow the government.

Admittedly, the demonstration organized by Shor, led by a fugitive oligarch, gathered only a few thousand people in Chisinau on Tuesday, the day after an ultimatum issued to the government. Shor demands that the public authorities compensate for the increase in energy and heating prices caused by the halving of Russian gas deliveries.

The Minister of Defense does not discern, at the same time, any “imminent military danger”. The Russian army is entangled on the eastern Ukrainian front and has very limited operational capabilities (about 2,000 men) in the separatist region of Transnistria.

On the other hand, Chisinau fears the organization of riots fueled by the rise in prices, estimated at another 26% on an annual basis in February, or even a coup d’etat. Moldovan police have arrested around 50 people suspected of being Moscow agents in recent days and claim to have spotted suspicious vehicle movements.

Application for EU membership

The Moldovan government submitted last spring, in reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an application to join the European Union but not NATO. It was a question of not rushing Moscow. This did not prevent the Kremlin from sending thinly veiled threats to Moldova last month that it could meet the same fate as Ukraine. He also accused Chisinau of being part of the “Western anti-Russian project”. As a result, Moldova no longer excludes a candidacy for the Atlantic Alliance.

The White House on Friday accused Moscow of seeking to weaken the government of Moldova, with the aim of installing an executive committed to its cause. Russia last month denied any coup plans, denouncing claims “absolutely unfounded and without evidence”.

Moldova, today one of the poorest countries in Europe with an average salary equivalent to 200 euros per month, has long been under the influence of Moscow: it was integrated into the Russian Empire in 1812 and, after a parenthesis within the Kingdom of Romania, absorbed by the USSR in 1940.


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