Moldova’s pro-Western government RESIGNS a day after Zelensky warned of a Russian plot to ‘destroy’ the country
- President Maia Sandu accepted PM Natalia Gavrilita’s resignation on Friday
- She is set to be replaced by Dorin Recean who said he will continue EU bid
Moldova’s pro-Western government resigned on Friday, a day after Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky warned of a Russian plot to ‘destroy’ the country.
President Maia Sandu accepted Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita’s resignation, bringing an end to a a turbulent 18 months in power marked by economic turmoil and the spillover effects of Russia’s invasion of Moldova’s neighbour.
Ms Sandu has nominated 48-year-old presidential aide and former interior minister Dorin Recean to replace Gavrilita.
Recean, who is expected to quickly win parliamentary approval, said he would press on with Moldova’s bid to join the European Union and revive the economy, in a sign that he would continue to take the same pro-Western stance as his predecessor.
‘The new government will have three priorities: Order and discipline, a new life and economy, and peace and stability,’ Recean, a defence adviser to Sandu and secretary of Moldova’s security council, told a news briefing on Friday.
Pictured: Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita announces her resignation as Moldova’s Prime Minister on Friday, bringing an end to a a turbulent 18 months in power marked by economic turmoil and the spillover effects of Russia’s invasion of Moldova’s neighbour
His challenges include dealing with what Moldova portrays as attempts by Russia to destabilise the tiny former Soviet republic of 2.5 million people which borders Ukraine and NATO and EU member Romania.
Speaking to European Union leaders in Brussels on Thursday, Ukraine’s Zelensky said he recently told Sandu about Russia’s alleged scheme to destabilise her country.
‘I have informed her that we have intercepted the plan of the destruction of Moldova by the Russian intelligence,’ Zelensky said through a translator.
He said the documents showed ‘who, when and how’ the plan would ‘break the democracy of Moldova and establish control over Moldova’.
Zelensky said the plan was very similar to the one devised by Russia to take over Ukraine, but added he did not know whether Moscow ultimately ordered the plan to be carried out.
Also on Thursday, Moldova’s intelligence service that Russia was acting to destabilise the country, after Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said last week the West is considering turning Moldova into ‘another Ukraine’.
He said the West backed the 2020 election of the pro-western Ms Sandu, claiming she is eager to take the country into NATO, merge Moldova with Romania and ‘practically is ready for anything’.
In December, Moldova’s national intelligence agency said Russia could launch a new offensive this year with the aim of creating a land corridor through southern Ukraine to Moldova’s Moscow-backed breakaway region of Transnistria.
President Maia Sandu (left on Friday after accepting Gavrilita’s resignation) nominated 48-year-old presidential aide and former interior minister Dorin Recean (right) to replace Gavrilita
Transnistria, highlighted, is stationed with Russian troops . Reports has suggested Russia may look to connect itself with the breakaway region of Moldova by launching an offensive through southern Ukraine
Russia, which has troops in Transdniestria, has bristled at the possibility of former Soviet republics joining the EU.
Transnistria broke away after a 1992 civil war but is not recognised by most countries. It extends roughly 250 miles from the eastern bank of the Dniester River to the country’s border with Ukraine.
Russia has about 1,500 troops nominally as ‘peacekeepers’ in the breakaway region.
Tensions rose further on Friday when Chisinau said a Russian missile had violated Moldovan and Romanian airspace before hitting Ukraine, and summoned Russia’s ambassador to protest. Romania, a NATO member, denied the reports.
The foreign ministry condemned ‘the latest unfriendly actions and statements against Moldova’ and said they were ‘absolutely unacceptable.’
Sandu thanked the outgoing government for its efforts in what she was ‘a time of so many crises’ for the small nation.
‘In spite of unprecedented challenges, the country was governed responsibly, with a lot of attention and dedicated work. We have stability, peace and development – where others wanted war and bankruptcy,’ she said.
Gavrilita became PM in August 2021 after her pro-European Party of Action and Solidarity secured a majority in parliament with a mandate to clean up corruption.
Ukrainian President Zelensky makes an address at the European Parliament on 9 February. He said he recently told President Sandu about Russia’s alleged scheme to destabilise her country
EU leaders accepted Moldova as a membership candidate last year in a diplomatic triumph for Sandu. The government had been mapping out reforms to accelerate accession to the 27-nation bloc and working on diversifying its energy supply.
But Moldova faces soaring inflation and has struggled to cope with an influx of Ukrainian refugees. It has also suffered power cuts after Russian attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities, and struggled to end its reliance on Russian gas.
The steep price increases, particularly for Russian gas, led to street protests last year in which demonstrators called for the government and Sandu to resign.
The protests, organised by the party of exiled opposition politician Ilan Shor, marked the most serious political challenge to Sandu since her landslide election win in 2020 on a pro-European and anti-corruption platform.
Chisinau has described the protests as part of a Kremlin-sponsored campaign to destabilise the government.
‘I believe in the Moldovan people. I believe in Moldova,’ Gavrilita told a news briefing at which she announced her government was stepping aside. ‘I believe that we will be able to make it through all the difficulties and challenges.’
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