Moldovan President Maia Sandu has called for “maximum vigilance” after receiving documents from the Ukrainian intelligence services that she said showed that Russia planned to destabilize Moldova by using agents provocateurs to attack government buildings under the guise of public protests.
“The plan also involves the use of people from outside the country for violent actions.”
Reports about the alleged plot are “deeply concerning,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on February 13.
While reports about the plot have not been independently confirmed, it is “certainly not outside the bounds of Russian behavior, and we absolutely stand with the Moldovan government and the Moldovan people,” Kirby said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry on February 14 rejected the reports, saying, “Such claims are completely unfounded and unsubstantiated.”
Russia blamed Ukraine for stirring tension between Russia and Moldova, saying Kyiv was trying to draw Moldova “into a tough confrontation with Russia.”
Sandu’s news conference came amid a government crisis after Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned on February 10. Seeking to prevent a deepening of the crisis, Sandu immediately appointed Dorin Recean, her defense and security adviser, to lead a new government.
The Moldovan Intelligence and Security Service (SIS) confirmed on February 9 that it had received information about the alleged plan from its Ukrainian counterpart, but said it could not give any more details “because there’s the risk of jeopardizing different ongoing operational activities.”
The alleged plan came to light earlier that day when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told an EU summit in Brussels that Kyiv had “intercepted the plan for the destruction of Moldova by Russian intelligence.”
Zelenskiy said the plan was very similar to the one devised by Russia to take over Ukraine. He added that he did not know whether Moscow ultimately ordered the plan to be carried out.
On February 13, Sandu said that plan involved “diversionists with military training and camouflaged in civilian clothes,” and that instructions were discovered for citizens from Serbia, Russia, Belarus, and Montenegro to enter Moldova to carry it out.
Russia’s goal, Sandu said, was to change “the legitimate power from Chisinau to an illegitimate one,” as well as to thwart Moldova’s European integration efforts and to use Moldova in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Sandu said that anti-government demonstrations that took place in Moldova from September to November were also part of an effort to undermine the country.
The protests, organized by the Russian-friendly Shor Party, called for early elections and the resignation of the pro-Western Sandu.
“Attempts to undermine the state also existed last fall, but they did not achieve their goals, thanks to the prompt action of our security and public order institutions,” Sandu said.
“In autumn, the focus was on the energy crisis, which was supposed to cause major discontent among the population and lead to violent actions.”
Sandu called on state institutions to exercise “maximum vigilance” and for the parliament to quickly adopt draft laws aimed at strengthening the SIS’s role in preventing and countering internal and external threats to Moldova’s security.