Russia plotting ‘insurrection’ in Moldova, White House says

National Security Council spokesperson says Russian intelligence services are ‘pursuing options to weaken the Moldovan government’ in hopes of stopping the country’s turn to the west

Andrew Feinberg
Friday 10 March 2023 20:05 GMT
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APTOPIX Moldova Protest
APTOPIX Moldova Protest (AP)

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Russia is trying to destabilise Moldova’s government and replace it with leadership more friendly toward Moscow, the White House has said.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the US believes Russia “is pursuing options to weaken the Moldovan government” to prevent it from more closely integrating with Europe, and “with the eventual goal of seeing a more Russian-friendly administration in the capital”.

Mr Kirby said “Russian actors” with ties to Moscow’s intelligence services are “seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government”.

The US expects “another set of Russian actors to provide training for manufactured demonstrations in Moldova,” he added.

“In years past we’ve seen Russia try and failed to destabilise other European countries,” Mr Kirby continued, noting that such an attempt was made in Montenegro in 2016.

“While the activities of Russian groups attempting to target Moldova are of concern, we should not overestimate their capabilities. I want to emphasise that the Moldovan government is resilient and working effectively to counter these threats,” he said. “We are confident in Moldova’s democratic and economic institutions and their abilities to respond to these threats.”

Mr Kirby told reporters that the information he shared on Friday was the product of recently-declassified intelligence, and said the US has shared that information – plus “additional details” – with Moldovan authorities “so that they can further investigate for and disrupt Russian plans”.

He also said the US would “continue to work closely” with Chișinău and would “continue to shine a light on the identities and activities of these Russian actors,” including by levelling sanctions along the lines of those imposed in October against “nine individuals and 12 entities involved in the destabilization of Moldova including oligarchs widely recognized for corrupting Moldova state institutions”.

“We’re going to continue to support the people and the government of Moldova as they deal with the consequences of Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine, and as they integrate more closely with Europe,” he said. “The United States strongly supports Moldova’s political, economic and anti-corruption reforms and their deepening European integration. Moldova and its people have clearly demonstrated that they want to look to a brighter future. We want to see that brighter future too. And we're going to stand with Moldova every step of the way.”

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