Moldova

Moldova’s conflict over the Russian-backed breakaway region of Transnistria, which seeks to join Russia, has been frozen since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Meanwhile, the country’s momentum for greater integration with the EU has been undermined by continuing corruption and the election of pro-Russia president Igor Dodon. Crisis Group monitors developments related to the Transnistrian conflict, Russia’s increasing involvement in Moldovan politics and the fallout of conflict in eastern Ukraine. As we engage Moldovan officials and policymakers in Brussels, we produce analysis and recommendations to contain the risk of escalation and further the resolution of Moldova’s separatist conflict.

CrisisWatch Moldova

Unchanged Situation

Amid ongoing opposition-led protests, U.S. imposed sanctions targeting Russian “influence operations”; tensions ran high with Russia amid airspace violation and gas supply worries.

Opposition-led protests prompted U.S. sanctions targeting Kremlin. Protests that began in Sept denouncing high inflation and fuel prices and demanding resignation of President Maia Sandu and pro-EU govt continued throughout month in capital Chisinau. Notably, estimated 7,000 protesters 23 Oct marched through capital and created new tent camp, removed 10 Oct by police. Members of opposition Shor Party, who maintain links to Russia, have been main organisers behind demonstrations, hinting at Kremlin’s role in protests to destabilise country. Amid growing concerns, U.S. 26 Oct imposed sanctions on over 20 individuals and entities to counter Russia’s “persistent malign influence campaigns and systemic corruption in Moldova”.

Authorities accused Moscow of violating country’s airspace. Deputy PM Nicu Popescu 10 Oct announced that three missiles launched on Ukraine from Russian ships in Black Sea crossed Moldova’s airspace; Russia offered no official explanation for incident. Meanwhile, govt 7 Oct extended state of emergency imposed in Feb following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by 60 days.

Concerns grew over Russian gas supplies. Amid soaring gas prices in wake of Ukraine war, Russian gas supplier Gazprom – which Moldova relies almost entirely on for gas – 4 Oct threatened to cut gas supplies if country failed to comply with its payment obligations by 20 Oct; one lawmaker said move was “another element of soft blackmailing Moldova for its European course”. Govt 20 Oct said Gazprom refused to tell Chisinau how much gas it would provide in Nov, citing supply issues due to Ukraine, further straining relations.

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