Moldova dismissed claims made by the Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday that Ukrainian “spoilers” were preparing a false flag attack on a pro-Russian breakaway region in the country.
The warning announced in the Ministry of Defense of Russia telegram account, suggested that the troops involved disguise themselves as Russians. “As a pretext for the invasion, an alleged offensive of Russian troops is planned from the territory of Transnistria,” the message warned, referring to the breakaway pro-Russian region of Moldova. “To do this, the Ukrainian saboteurs participating in the staged invasion will dress in the uniform of military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”
In the buildup to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, the Kremlin tried staging or simulating a series of incidents in the Lugansk and Donbas regions which they claimed were Ukrainian military actions targeting pro-Russians. Alarmingly for Moldova, it was all just a pretext for its own all-out attack on its neighbor.
Moldova responded to the alert with its own Telegram message, denying the allegations and asking for restraint. “We call for calm and for information (by the public) to be received from official and credible sources in the Republic of Moldova,” they wrote. “Our institutions cooperate with foreign partners and in case of threats to the country, the public will be informed immediately.”
It is not the first time that Moldova, a former Soviet nation that borders Russia and Romania, a member of the European Union, has been drawn into the conflict. In early February, Russia violated Moldovan airspace with a missile attack on Ukraine. And the country’s president warned that the Kremlin was instigating a coup to prevent Moldova from making its bid to join the European Union, which Moscow denied.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova, Nicu Popescu told the financial times that their country was seeking EU sanctions against Russian oligarch Ilan Șor, who they claim is helping Russia wage war in the country. “We do not see the risk of military scenarios in the immediate future on the Moldovan border, thanks to the resistance and resilience of Ukraine. But hybrid subversion, attempted coup, yes, there are risks,” Popescu said. “This oligarch [Șor] continues to attack Moldova. We expect the EU to sanction corrupt individuals waging, together with and on behalf of Russia, a hybrid war against the Moldovan government.”
This week Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he would tear up a 2012 decree between the two nations aimed at resolving the status of Transnistria, which seceded from Moldova in 1990 with a view to joining Russia. Moldova fought against separatists in 1992, but later surrendered to Russian “peacekeepers” who are still stationed in the region.
Ukraine’s President Vlodomyr Zelensky told a security council meeting in Munich last week that it was “obvious” that Putin would not stop with Ukraine and that he was working on ways to “strangle” Moldova.