Moldova does not see Immediate Threat but Prepares for the Worst
Moldova does not see an immediate threat of riots and violence to be transferred from the war in Ukraine, despite "provocations" by pro-Russian separatists in recent days. But authorities are preparing contingency plans for "pessimistic" scenarios, President Maia Sandu said on Wednesday.
She spoke at a press conference with Charles Michel, President of the European Council, in Chisinau, to express solidarity with the war front in Ukraine. Michel said the EU was considering additional military support for Moldova this year but gave no details.
Fears have risen over the past week that Moldova could be embroiled in the conflict in neighboring Ukraine after pro-Russian separatists in the breakaway and internationally unrecognized Transnistrian region reported a series of attacks and explosions there and blamed Kyiv.
Sandu and her pro-Western government blame the incidents on "pro-war" separatist factions. She also condemned the Russian general's comments that one of Moscow's military goals was to seize Ukrainian territory in order to contact separatists in Moldova.
Kyiv has accused Moscow of trying to drag Moldova into the war. The Kremlin has expressed "concern" over the situation in Moldova's separatist region, where Russia has deployed hundreds of soldiers to guard weapons depots since the former Soviet Union for 30 years.
Asked on Wednesday if she was worried about unrest in the coming days, Sandu said through an interpreter: "We do not see an immediate threat in the near future, but of course, we have contingency plans for such scenarios that are less optimistic or pessimistic.“ She reiterated her description of the incidents as "provocations" by the separatists and said Moldovan police were doing their best on the Dniester River to ensure stability.
"We will help Moldova strengthen its stability," said Charles Michel. But he added: "We think it is important to avoid any escalation. It is not very intelligent to make provocative statements about the situation in Moldova."
The country of about 2.6 million people, located between Ukraine and Romania, has embarked on a decisive pro-Western political turn since Sandu took office in late 2020, defeating openly pro-Russian President Igor Dodon.
The country has an ethnic Romanian majority, but a large and influential Russian-speaking minority and close economic ties with Moscow. A brief war in the early 1990s led to the declaration of an independent separatist state in the Russian-speaking area along the Dniester River - a conflict that has remained frozen.
Sandu's government applied to join the EU on March 3rd this year, a week after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Russian television news has been banned in Moldova, and the orange-and-black "St. George's Ribbon" worn by supporters of the Russian invasion has been banned in recent weeks following a parliamentary vote boycotted by the pro-Russian opposition.
Charles Michel said the EU was working hard to assess Moldova's bid to join, although he described the procedure as "complicated".
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