Emanuel Macron Maia Sandu
French President Emanuel Macron (right) is due to sign agreement with Moldovan President Maia Sandu (left) during her visit to Paris on March 7. (file photo)

France To Sign Defense Deal With Moldova Amid Warnings Of Russian Interference Ahead Of Elections, Referendum

March 6, 2024
2 mins read

French President Emmanuel Macron and his Moldovan counterpart, Maia Sandu, are due to sign a defense pact, the Elysee Palace said on March 6, amid warnings that Russia is seeking to destabilize the southeastern European nation ahead of presidential elections and a plebiscite on membership in the European Union later this year.

The deal between France and Moldova is to be signed on March 7 during Sandu’s trip to Paris, the French presidency said in a statement.

“A defense cooperation agreement and a road map for economic cooperation will be signed during the visit,” the statement said, without providing further details.

“The president…will reiterate France’s support for the independence, sovereignty, and security of the Republic of Moldova, in the context of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” it added.

The announcement comes a day after Moldova’s Intelligence and Security Service (SIS) issued a stark warning that Russia is planning moves to destabilize the former Soviet republic which seeks to shake off Moscow’s decades-long influence and become a member of the EU.

SIS chief Alexandru Musteata said on March 5 that his agency has come into possession of “certain data” about actions planned for this year and the next one that would compromise Moldova’s accession to the EU and bring it back under Russia’s sphere of influence.

“The details point to strategies for 2024 and 2025 that involve supporting pro-Russian political actors with ties to the intelligence services, organized crime groups, and the Kremlin leadership,” Musteata said.

France and Moldova reached a first agreement in September on the training of military personnel, regular consultations on defense, and intelligence sharing.

Details of the content of the French-Moldovan agreement have not been made public, but Macron reiterated during a visit to Prague on March 5 that Ukraine’s Western European allies must also focus on strengthening security assistance for Moldova.

France is also hosting an online meeting of EU defense and foreign ministers on March 7 to discuss increasing support for Ukraine, but also for Moldova, which Paris said is facing “increasing destabilization moves” by Russia.

Pro-Western Sandu, under whom Moldova made an abrupt U-turn from Russia to Europe, is up for reelection later this year after handing an upset defeat to Moscow-backed incumbent Igor Dodon in 2020.

With Sandu at the helm, neutral Moldova also strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, firmly aligning itself with Kyiv while tightening its ties with its other neighbor, EU and NATO member Romania, with whom Moldova shares a common language and history.

Moldova is also due to hold a yet-to-be-scheduled nationwide referendum this year on joining the EU after receiving an invitation in 2022. Sandu has indicated that she would prefer that the presidential election and the EU membership referendum be held together.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are also scheduled later this year.

SIS chief Musteata said that his agency’s intelligence suggests Moscow would use tools from its old playbook to sow instability in Moldova.

“We predict that attempts would be made to trigger several social and political crises, to spark clashes and to incite interethnic hatred that would lead to security crises in the Gagauz autonomy or the Transdniester region,” Musteata said.

Semi-autonomous Gagauzia is populated mainly by ethnic Turkish Gagauz who speak Russian and have adopted Russian Orthodox Christianity.

Moscow-backed Transdniester, which declared independence from Moldova in 1990 and fought a war with Chisinau that was tilted in the separatists’ favor by Russian troops who continue to be stationed in the region, has recently “appealed” to Moscow for support to offset what it said was pro-Western Moldova’s “unbearable pressure.”

The appeal, which largely seemed orchestrated by the Kremlin itself, rang alarm bells in Western capitals as a prelude to a possible “unification” of the separatist region with Moscow.

“Moldova is facing increasingly aggressive attempts at destabilization,” French Foreign Ministry spokesman Christophe Lemoine said on February 29.

Lemoine also anticipated that during the meeting primarily intended to support Ukraine, the participants would also come up with concrete ideas regarding the defense of countries threatened by Russia, especially the Republic of Moldova.

With reporting by Reuters

About Us

The Washington inquirer seeks the truth and helps people understand the world. Breaking News, data & opinions in business, sports, entertainment, travel, lifestyle, plus much more.

Latest from Blog