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Russia conducts ‘hybrid war’ in Moldova with protests and cyberattacks: prime minister

origin 1Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita awaits the start of the EU-Moldova Association Council at the European Council headquarters in Brussels February 7, 2023. ©AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Russia is trying to destabilize Moldova by sponsoring protests and carrying out cyber attacks, the country’s prime minister told RockedBuzz via Euronews on Tuesday.

“We are seeing elements of hybrid warfare. We are seeing, for example, pro-Russian forces attempting to destabilize the country politically through paid protests that quickly subsided when oligarchs who fled Moldova were placed on sanctions lists and their money flows have been limited,” Natalia Gavrilița said.

“We are seeing cyber attacks. We had the biggest cyber attacks in 2022 in the history of our country and we are seeing bomb threats.

“Much of the situation in Moldova will depend on how the war in Ukraine evolves. We see brave Ukrainians being very resilient and fighting for the security of not only their country, but also for the security of Moldova and for the wider values ​​that we Europeans we profess,” he added.

Gavrilița spoke to RockedBuzz via Euronews during a visit to Brussels to attend the seventh EU-Moldova Association Council, which took place just months after the country was granted EU candidate status alongside Ukraine.

He said the country’s security was highly vulnerable to events unfolding in neighboring Ukraine, with the war straining Moldova’s economy, energy security and social stability.

Moldova tops the list of endangered states, as Russia has numerous openings to exploit its economic and energy dependence. Before the war, the small country imported all of its gas from Russia, but Gazprom has since drastically cut back on deliveries.

“We expected 5% growth in 2022 and instead we saw a 5.5% drop in economic growth. We have very high inflation and, for example, the gas tariff has increased sevenfold, the electricity tariff has increased than three times,” Gavrilița told RockedBuzz via Euronews.

“And although we’ve targeted welfare programs, the bills that people are seeing have gone up dramatically,” he said, adding that wages haven’t adjusted as a result.

The European Commission proposed 145 million euros in new funding just last week and said it would continue to support the country’s economy and energy security.

At the same time, the pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria remains a concern as the war is still ongoing.

The narrow strip of land nearly 200 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide lies between the Dniester River and Moldova’s eastern border with Ukraine. It separated from Moldova in 1992 but is not recognized as a sovereign state by the international community or even by Russia.

“We view the situation in our breakaway region of Transnistria as fragile but stable,” the prime minister said.

Gavrilita also told RockedBuzz via Euronews that there is an increase in illegal immigration using the Ukrainian conflict as a transit route or using Moldova as a transit country. These numbers are not very large but he stressed the importance of ensuring they do not grow and become a phenomenon.