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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Southeast Europe: Russia wants to stop Moldova’s course west

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The former Soviet Republic of Moldova is torn between Russia and the West. Now there are reports that Moscow is planning to prevent the country from joining the EU and NATO.

As a neighbor of Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia, the completely impoverished ex-Soviet Republic of Moldova is increasingly being targeted by Moscow’s aspirations to become a great power. According to research by an international investigative network, the Kremlin wants to stop the westward course of the country aspiring to join the EU and expand its influence in the neighboring country of EU member Romania.

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Moscow has not commented on such plans and recently rejected allegations by the government in Chisinau that it was planning a coup in the country. Nevertheless, Russia’s interests in the agricultural country are no secret.

A strategy paper by the Kremlin is intended to show detailed stages of how Moscow intends to get Moscow back on its side, according to the Russian project Dossier.Center of Kremlin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Moldovan investigative network Rise, the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, the West German and North German radio stations (WDR and NDR). For example, the Russian domestic secret service FSB and other Moscow intelligence services are said to be active in many areas of the country.

The reporter network sees the opposition party Sor controlled by the FSB. With its protests against high gas and electricity prices, which have been going on for weeks, the party is trying to destabilize the situation in the country. Like other non-governmental organizations, the Moldovan-Russian trade association founded by the Moscow-friendly ex-president Igor Dodon together with the Russian Igor Chaika is determined by the interests of the Kremlin.

High inflation bothers people

Anyone who walks through the capital Chisinau these days will quickly notice how charged the atmosphere is during conversations. Many people are angry about the high inflation of over 30 percent. They complain that they don’t know how to pay the bills. Lots of people sell their belongings on the bare asphalt. In the past, under Dodon, gas from Russia was available at friendly prices. Now they’re up sevenfold. Because of the political enmity between Chisinau and Moscow, farmers can no longer export their apples, plums and grapes to Russia.

New Prime Minister Dorin Recean, installed in February after Natalia Gavrilita resigned, said that 30 to 40 percent of the people wanted pro-Western President Maia Sandu to meet with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin. “People are afraid. And when they’re afraid, they say: OK, the Russian bear is too big for us,” said Recean, describing the mood. Many wanted an agreement with Moscow on cheap gas and their peace. The fear is also deep because Russia has soldiers stationed in the Transnistria region, which has broken away from Moldova.

Opposition organizes constant protests

The party of the opposition leader Ilan Sor is demanding that the government bear the costs for gas, heating and electricity during the protests that have been organized again and again. A law on this is to be introduced in parliament this Thursday, Sor said. He called on citizens to come to Parliament in large numbers.

According to the journalists’ network, these demands are only a means to further destabilize the situation in the country and ultimately prevent Moldova from becoming a member of the EU and NATO. Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also recently stressed that the United States must be prevented from launching another “anti-Russia” project there, as he said, following the example of Ukraine.

Although the Moldovan government had six Russian-speaking TV channels closed, Russian is still a common lingua franca. There are also newspapers in Russian. However, Russian media are closely following visits like the one on Wednesday by a US delegation, which pledged support to Moldova.

On the other hand, friends of Moscow like ex-President Dodon warn against Westernization and a “Romanization of Moldova”. In the capital Chisinau, the influence of the EU neighbor is very present. Plaques on listed buildings remind that the Romanian government paid for the renovation. The blue EU flag also flies on official buildings. Russia wants to stop this influence, the reporter network reports, citing the Kremlin’s strategy paper.

Khodorkovsky: Moscow relies on “gas blackmail”

The document was prepared in the Presidential Administration in Moscow 2021 by the Department for Cross-Border Cooperation. It shows once again Russia’s interference in the internal affairs of other states, said Khodorkovsky, who lives in exile in Great Britain and was once the richest man in Russia. The main instrument for destabilizing the situation in Moldova is “gas blackmail”.

“The document apparently comes from the same Kremlin experts who, at the same time, drafted a paper dealing with the insidious incorporation of Belarus by Moscow,” reported the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. In February, the disclosure network reported on such alleged plans. Unlike Moldova, Belarus is completely dependent on Russia economically and financially.

“Moscow’s plan for Moldova this time is less aimed at integrating the country into a Russian-dominated union state,” wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The aim is “to create a vassal state that is subordinate to the will of Moscow.” Accordingly, Russia wants to keep Moldova in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union. An integration into the organization of the Treaty on Collective Security, which is also controlled by Moscow, and into the Eurasian Economic Union is planned.

Source: Stern

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