According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Kyiv has thwarted a Russian attempt to destabilize the government of Moldova.
Zelenskyy claimed that Russian secret services were the brains behind the intercepted plans; however, it is unknown if the Kremlin gave the project the go-ahead.
He told leaders during a trip to Brussels, “I have warned [Moldovan President Maia Sandu] that we have detected the plan of the destruction of Moldova by the Russian intelligence.”
According to Zelenskyy, the documents “showed who, when, and how” the plan would “destroy the democracy of Moldova and impose authority over Moldova.”
The plan, which Zelenskyy claimed was comparable to unsuccessful Russian attempts to topple Kyiv, is not the first time Russian authorities have suggested Moldova was the country they would be targeting next for annihilation.
Two months after its invasion of Ukraine, a Russian general revealed Moscow’s intentions to seize control of the country’s eastern and southern territories by annexing its Black Sea-facing provinces, including as far west as Odesa, before turning its attention to Moldova to the West.
Odessa borders Moldova and the unofficial breakaway region of Transnistria, which has close relations with Russia.
The Moldovan administration has been mum on specifics, stating that it has discovered “subversive operations, designed to weaken the Republic of Moldova, disrupt, and disturb public order.” It needs to clarify Russia’s goals in its most recent plot.
In a statement admitting it had obtained “respective intelligence from our Ukrainian partners,” Moldova’s Intelligence and Security Service stated, “At this time, we cannot disclose more details due to the risk of disrupting different ongoing operational efforts.”
According to the agency, the Moldovan government’s state institutions “are operating at full capacity and will not permit these obstacles to occur.”
Russia may be planning to build a land bridge connecting southern Ukraine and Transnistria, Moldova’s security service warned in December. However, Russian forces have been stuck in south Ukraine since leaving the city of Kherson in November.
Defense officials in Ukraine and the West have warned for months that Russia is preparing a significant offensive in eastern and southern Ukraine. However, they have not specified where they believe Russia will begin this operation.
Last week, Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, said that the West wanted to transform Moldova into “another Ukraine.” Additionally, he asserted that the West would support Sandu’s 2020 election and that her objective was to join NATO.
Similar rhetoric to that which Russia used to try and legitimize its invasion of Ukraine has been utilized in response to the perceived threat Moldova offers by joining NATO.