Republic of Moldova: New threats from Moscow


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has threatened Moldova that Ukraine will be the next country to meet its fate. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Chisinau reacted immediately.

< p>Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has targeted Moldova as the West's new “anti-Russian project”. The West “has its eye on the Republic of Moldova” and is preparing the country for this scenario, Lavrov explained on Russian television. He said of the pro-European Moldovan President Maia Sandu that she was “less democratically” elected and “ready for anything” for the sake of the West.

Romania, NATO and Transnistria

The more or less direct threats from Moscow against the Republic of Moldova have intensified since the outbreak of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. In an interview for the Russian state television, the broadcast of which was banned in the Republic of Moldova due to massive propaganda allegations, Lavrov accused the Moldovan President of pursuing a policy that is deeply anti-Russian. He also accused her of having Romanian citizenship, supporting the unification of her country with Romania and campaigning for NATO membership. “Now the West is preparing Moldova for this role,” he said.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu is committed to her country's EU integration

The leadership in Chisinau, he criticized, had refused to resume negotiations in the 5+2 format to resolve the Transnistrian conflict. Russia and the separatist administration of Transnistria, a region that split from Moldova after a bloody war with Moscow's support in the early 1990s, are sticking to the format, especially after the Russian army's failures in Ukraine. “Parallel to the pro-NATO and pro-EU pleadings, Chisinau refuses to resume negotiations in the 5+2 format, and that speaks volumes,” the Russian foreign minister said. The Moldovan leadership now even intends to expel the Russian peacekeeping troops from Transnistria: “Moldova is one of the countries that the West wants to turn against Russia,” says Lavrov.

Around 2,000 Russian soldiers are still stationed in the separatist region of Transnistria, a narrow strip of land in the east of Moldova. Around 20,000 tons of ammunition and military equipment from old Russian stocks are stored in a former Soviet arms depot in Cobasna; it is the largest such depot in Europe. In 1999, Russia officially pledged to withdraw troops and weapons within a few years, but never kept that promise.

What did Maia Sandu actually say?

At the end of January, the Moldovan President mentioned in an interview with the international press that her country could give up its neutrality in the current situation in favor of integration into a “larger alliance”. The neutral status of the Republic of Moldova enshrined in the constitution is being discussed intensively in public in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the moment, however, there are not enough votes in Parliament for a constitutional change in this regard. According to the President's statements, several politicians from the Putin regime threatened Moldova with destruction as a state if it decided to join NATO.

In addition, the so-called foreign minister of the breakaway region of Transnistria, Vitali Ignatyev, complained in a video conference with Russian politicians of the “increased pressure” on Transnistria due to the expansion of the Moldovan national army's defense capacity. There is also increased “repression of everything Russian” in Moldova – a traditional propaganda tool that Russia usually uses to justify its military aggression against independent states such as Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.   ;  

Immediate reaction from Chisinau

The Moldovan Foreign Ministry reacted promptly to the latest threats from Moscow. Lavrov's statements are not true and are “part of the already well-known threatening rhetoric of Russian diplomacy”. Nicu Popescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, stated that his country categorically rejects such a tone in bilateral relations with Russia. He reminded the leadership in Moscow that the citizens of Moldova wanted peace, prosperity, democracy and accession to the European Union.

Chisinau has expressed solidarity with Ukraine since the first day of the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, opening the borders to Ukrainian refugees. Measured by its population, the country has since taken in the most refugees from the neighboring country. At the same time, the Republic of Moldova has consistently condemned Russia's barbaric attacks on the population and the critical infrastructure of Ukraine. At every international meeting, Moldovan politicians warn of the alarming increase in security risks for their country. 

“Russia must be stopped”

Gunther Krichbaum, spokesman on European policy for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group and before that for many years chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the German Bundestag, is an expert on political developments in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. He explained to DW that the renewed Russian threats against the Republic of Moldova once again showed Moscow's aggressiveness and how important it is to put Russia in its place now. “This war must not be worthwhile for Russia, Ukraine must win the war,” said Krichbaum.

Gunther Krichbaum is European policy spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group

All appeasement politicians should finally understand that Russia would not stop its conquests after a victory over Ukraine, the CDU politician added. The Republic of Moldova would be the next victim and they would have nothing to oppose Russia. Then it would go on to Georgia and the Baltic States should not feel safe either. “Therefore, Russia must be stopped now,” said Krichbaum.