Russia conducting 'hybrid war' in Moldova with protests and cyber attacks: Prime MinisterComments
Russia is trying to destabilise Moldova by sponsoring protests and conducting cyber attacks, the country's prime minister told Euronews on Tuesday.
"We are seeing elements of hybrid war. We are seeing, for example, pro-Russian forces trying to destabilise the country politically through paid protests which quickly subsided when the oligarchs that fled Moldova were put on the sanctions lists and their money flows were restricted," Natalia Gavrilița said.
"We are seeing cyber attacks. We've had the biggest cyber attacks in 2022 in the history of our country, and we are seeing bomb threats.
"A lot of the situation in Moldova will depend on the evolution of the war in Ukraine. We see the brave Ukrainians being very resilient and fighting for the security not only of their country, but also for the security of Moldova and for wider for the values that we as Europeans profess," she added.
Gavrilița spoke to Euronews during a visit to Brussels to take part in the seventh EU-Moldova Association Council, taking place just months after the country was granted EU candidate status alongside Ukraine.
She said that the country's security is highly vulnerable to events unfolding in neighbouring Ukraine, with the war putting Moldova's economy, energy security and social stability under great strain.
Moldova is high on the list of at-risk states, as Russia has numerous openings to exploit its economic and energy dependence. Before the war, the small country imported all of its gas from Russia but Gazprom has since severely reduced deliveries.
"We were expecting growth of 5% in 2022 and instead we saw a decrease in economic growth by 5.5%. We have very high inflation and for example, the tariff for gas went up seven times, the tariff for electricity went up three times," Gavrilița told Euronews.
"And although we have targeted social assistance programmes, the bills that people are seeing have increased dramatically," she said, adding that wages have not adjusted accordingly.
The EU Commission proposed €145 million in new funding just last week and said it will continue to support the country's economy and energy security.
At the same time, the pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria remains a source of concern as the war is still ongoing.
The narrow strip of land almost 200 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide is located between the Dniester River and Moldova's eastern border with Ukraine. It split from Moldova in 1992 but is not recognised as a sovereign state by the international community or even by Russia.
"We consider the situation in our separatist Transnistria region fragile but stable," the prime minister said.
Gavrilita also told Euronews there is increased illegal migration using the Ukrainian conflict as a transit route or using Moldova as a transit country. These numbers are not very big but she stressed the importance to ensure that they don't grow and they don't turn into a phenomenon.