- Borislav Ivanov
The President of Moldova Accuses Russia of Plotting a Coup.
Russia, according to Moldova's leader, sought to deploy foreign saboteurs to topple the country's leadership and prevent it from entering the European Union.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu accused Russia on Monday of orchestrating a violent takeover of the country's pro-European leadership in order to prevent Moldova from joining the European Union and to involve it in Ukraine's war.
Sandu's comments came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy revealed last week that his government had uncovered a Russian intelligence plan "for the destruction of Moldova," and just days after the country's administration resigned.
The United States described allegations of a Russian conspiracy to destabilize the Moldovan government as "very disturbing." The purported scheme, according to White House national security spokesperson John Kirby, has not been independently corroborated but is "definitely not outside the limits of Russian activity."
"We absolutely stand with the Moldovan government and the Moldovan people," he continued.
Moldova's president, Maia Sandu. Credit: Dumitru Doru/EPA Photograph
What were the plans of the alleged coup?
According to Sandu, Moscow's purported plot would entail "saboteurs" with military backgrounds disguised as civilians carrying out violent operations, attacks on public institutions, and hostage-taking.
Under the cover of "protests by the so-called opposition," the saboteurs intend to "overthrow the constitutional order and replace Chisinau's legal power with an illegitimate one," Sandu told media.
Moldova, a country with a population of 2.6 million bordering Romania and Ukraine, obtained EU candidate status in the summer of 2022, but has faced a year of anti-government protests orchestrated by a fugitive tycoon named Ilan Shor.
Along with domestic forces like those controlled by Shor, Moscow intended to carry out the coup using foreign agents from Russia, Belarus, Serbia, and Montenegro, according to Sandu.
Moldova's parliament would thus need to "immediately enact" measures that would give the country's Intelligence and Security Service (SIS) and prosecutors "the essential capabilities to combat more efficiently against national security threats," she said.
“However, the Kremlin's attempts to bring violence to Moldova will not work. Our main goal is the security of citizens and the state. Our goal is peace and public order in the country,” Sandu added.
The war spreads to Moldova
Sandu has regularly stated her worry about Moscow's intentions toward the former Soviet republic, as well as the deployment of Russian forces in the separatist Trans-Dniester area.
Russia's war in neighbouring Ukraine has regularly raised security worries in Moldova over the last year. Debris from Russian missiles fell on Moldovan territory after passing through the country's airspace, particularly in the early months of the conflict.
Moldova also experienced power shortages as a result of Ukraine's suspension of energy exports in response to Russian bombings on crucial infrastructure.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed in early February that Moldova is the latest "anti-Russian project," and that the West has now "set its eyes on the Republic of Moldova to play the role of the next Ukraine."