Moldova does not currently face “imminent military danger”, but is subject to “hybrid warfare generated by Russia” in a bid to “overthrow state power”, according to its defence minister Anatolie Nosatii.
On the border with Ukraine, and cheek-to-cheek with Russian-controlled breakaway region, Transnistria, Moldova is in a precarious geographical and political position within Europe.
One of the poorest nations in Europe, conditions in the country have worsened since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, due to the ongoing energy crisis. Public dissatisfaction is high, with large-scale protests regularly causing disruption.
Since the forming of a new, pro-Western government in February, anti-government demonstrations have continued, which authorities believe are fuelled by Russian interference.
Indeed, on Sunday, Moldovan police say they uncovered a plot of Russian-backed agents seeking to cause mass unrest during a protest.
Defence Minister, Anatolie Nosatii, said Russia poses a threat to Moldova: “I’m talking about a hybrid war. It manifests itself through disinformation and fake news, which is reflected in the tensions within our society, generated by Russia to change the political order, destabilise the situation and overthrow state power.”
This comes after Moldova’s president, Maia Sandu, met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Munich, where she suggested Moldova would be open to joining the political alliance.
Anatolie Nosatii said the “priority” as it stands is to cooperate with NATO, and “deepen” ties, as they have done in the last year.
Moldova’s vulnerability to Russian influence comes from Transnistria, a slither of land internationally recognised as Moldovan, but controlled by Russia, between the Dniester river and the Moldovan-Ukrainian border.
In an interview with AFP, Anatolie Nosatii restated Moldova’s demand for an “unconditional evacuation of Russian armed forces which are illegally stationed in Moldova’s territory”.