Michael Weiss and Holger Roonemaa report:
On Friday, John Kirby, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, made a surprise announcement at a White House press briefing. U.S. intelligence, he said, had determined that the Kremlin was plotting to topple another European democracy. “Russian actors, some with current ties to Russian intelligence, are seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government,” Kirby declared.
As if on schedule, Moldova experienced an antigovernment demonstration on Sunday, just two days later. Thousands of people waving the blue, yellow and red Moldovan flag marched through the streets of downtown Chisinau, the capital, past the national Parliament and executive building. “Down with Maia Sandu!” they chanted, referring to Moldova’s outspokenly pro-European president.
Local police arrested 54 demonstrators for violating public order, almost half of them minors. Police also alleged that four bomb threats were made throughout the country, one at the international airport. The Moldovan Border Police, meanwhile, said it had stopped a suspected mercenary from the Wagner Group from entering the country in a week in which 181 other foreigners tried to do likewise.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical ambitions for Moldova go far beyond such protests.
Yahoo News has obtained an internal strategy document from Putin’s Presidential Administration that reveals Moscow’s plans for Moldova, the small country vulnerably sandwiched between war-torn Ukraine and a member of NATO and the European Union, Romania. The document is part of a reporting collaboration with European news organizations: Delfi Estonia, the Swedish newspaper Expressen, the London-based Dossier Center, the Kyiv Independent, Rise Moldova, Frontstory, VSquare, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) and Norddeutscher Rundfunk. [Continue reading…]