Moldova’s prime minister resigns as war in Ukraine undermines support for a pro-EU government

Moldova’s Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita has resigned, citing a lack of support for her government, which is grappling with the fallout of Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine and Moscow’s efforts to destabilize the country.

Since the war began almost a year ago, Moldova has grappled with an influx of Ukrainian refugees, gas and electricity cuts by Russia and a collapse in foreign trade, which has pushed inflation to around 30 percent and devastated the economy.

At the same time, Gavrilita’s pro-EU government has attempted to push through reforms demanded by Brussels before it can start EU accession talks, which has weakened public support in the post-Soviet republic, where pro-Russian sentiment has deep historical roots.

Her resignation on Friday, which is expected to trigger the resignation of several other ministers, came shortly after a Russian missile fired at Ukraine violated Moldova’s airspace, and a day after the country’s intelligence agency said it was aware of the plans of the Moscow security services deliberately undermining the Moldovan state.

“Moldova is expected with open arms in the EU, Moldova has friends,” said Gavrilita, who was appointed in August 2021, at a briefing in Chisinau. “If the government at home had had the same support, we would have moved faster.”

President Maia Sandu is expected to nominate a new prime minister on Friday afternoon after consultations with lawmakers.

“Everything is calm and orderly,” a person briefed on the government-forming talks told the Financial Times.

Gavrilita told the FT this week that Moldova is being subjected to “hybrid warfare” by Russia, including disinformation, cyberattacks and influence manipulation.

Security Services of the Republic of Moldova called On Thursday, it had identified Russian intelligence operations attempting “subversive activity.” . . with the aim of undermining the state of Moldova, destabilizing and violating public order.”

Chisinau has also accused Russia of deploying its forces in Moldova’s Separatist-controlled enclave of Transnistria to destabilize the country through attacks on its infrastructure and disruptions to energy links running through the enclave to the rest of the state.

Moldova locator map

The EU named Moldova as a candidate country alongside Ukraine in June. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion began last February, Brussels has stepped up support for Chisinau in the form of financial and humanitarian aid, and recently agreed a security aid package.

Gavrilita this week led a delegation of senior Moldovan officials to Brussels for annual meetings with European Commission leaders, including President Ursula von der Leyen.

“Moldova can continue to count on the EU,” I told the Prime Minister [Gavrilita]said von der Leyen in an opinion. “We proposed €145 million in new funding just last week and we continue to support your economy and energy security.” Moldova’s prime minister resigns as war in Ukraine undermines support for a pro-EU government

Adam Bradshaw

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