FILE PHOTO: Moldovan President Maia Sandu attends a news conference in Chisinau, Moldova March 1, 2023. REUTERS/Vladislav Culiomza
By Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States accused Russia on Friday of seeking to destabilize Moldova and said it would help the Eastern European country fight off such attempts by sharing information and providing other assistance, the White House said.
The United States agrees with Moldovan President Maia Sandu’s view that there is no imminent military threat from Russia but shares her concern that Moscow is trying to destabilize her country to install a more pro-Russian government, John Kirby (NYSE:KEX), the White House’s national security spokesperson, said in a briefing.
“As Moldova continues to integrate with Europe, we believe Russia is pursuing options to weaken the Moldovan government probably with the eventual goal of seeing a more Russian friendly administration in the capital,” Kirby said.
“More specifically, Russian actors, some with current ties to Russian intelligence, are seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment and manufacture insurrection against the Moldovan government.”
Other Russian actors, he said, will work to provide training and help manufacture demonstrations in Moldova, a former Soviet republic.
The United States will take a range of steps in response to Russian attempts to destabilize Moldova, including building on the information Moldovan government has and working with the U.S. Congress to provide Moldova an additional $300 million in energy assistance to address urgent needs because of the war in Ukraine.
Russian officials are falsely alleging that Ukraine is planning to target separatists from Transdniestria, Kirby said, referring to a Moscow-backed breakaway region of Moldova.
“Let me be clear, these allegations are unfounded they’re false, and they can create baseless alarm,” he said.
Sandu, whose country borders Ukraine, has repeatedly expressed concern about Moscow’s intentions towards her country and about the presence of Russian troops in Transdniestria.
U.S. President Joe Biden met with Sandu in February during a trip to Warsaw and reaffirmed strong U.S. support for Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the White House said.
The United States would continue to “shine a light” on the activities of these Russian actors, including with additional sanctions, Kirby added.
“We have shared the information I have outlined as well as additional details with our Moldova and counterparts so that they can further investigate and disrupt Russian plans,” he said.