Moldova PM Expresses Concern Over Possible Russian Invasion – Natalia Gavrilita, the prime minister of Moldova, expressed her concern in an interview aired on Sunday that Russia may be preparing to invade her country as the conflict with Ukraine continues.
Speaking to CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” Gavrilita described a hypothetical situation in which Russian forces cross the Ukraine-Moldova border and occupy a region of Moldova that is already controlled by separatist groups.
“We are worried, of course,” Gavrilita said. “This is a risk, it’s a hypothetical scenario for now, but if the military actions move further into the southwestern part of Ukraine and toward Odesa, then of course, we are very worried.”
Rumors For Months on Moldova
In April, during a meeting with the Union of Defense Industries, Russian military commander Rustam Minnekaev hinted at the possibility of establishing a land corridor between the contested region of Donbas in Ukraine, all the way to the Moldovan border to the west. The move would not only cut off Ukraine from the Black Sea entirely but would potentially bring Moldova into the conflict.
“One of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control over the Donbas and southern Ukraine. This will provide a land corridor to the Crimea, as well as influence the vital objects of the Ukrainian economy,” Minnekaev said.
“Control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there are also facts of oppression of the Russian-speaking population,” he continued, referencing the separatist region of Moldova that already has a significant Russian military presence.
Why Would Russia Invade Moldova?
For starters, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. It is also not a member of NATO. It means that, should Russia find a reason to invade the country, there may not be any significant resistance.
While it’s entirely possible that NATO countries would help Moldova defend itself in the same way they helped Ukraine, the fact is that Russia would likely only focus on the Transnistria region, where Russian soldiers have held a presence since 1992. For this reason, it could make Western countries think twice about escalating the conflict.
Russia’s permanent military presence in the region, which declared independence from Moldova in 1990, would make an invasion easy and potentially give Russian soldiers a more neutral space outside of Ukrainian borders that may be used for tactical military purposes.
In June, however, Moldova vowed to defend itself from a possible Russian invasion.
This month, French President Emmanuel Macron also reaffirmed his support for Moldova, too, indicating an increased awareness of the possibility of a Russian invasion and perhaps signaling that NATO countries would, in fact, help the country defend itself against a hypothetical invasion.
If an invasion is to occur, it would certainly not be imminent – but the international response to it at this stage looks unclear.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.