Russia stokes fears in Moldova: A steady rise in hybrid warfare and false flag operations
The Russian authorities contend that Moldova has been "persecuting Russian and Russian-speaking media" for political reasons and that there have been "instances of discrimination against Russian citizens entering Moldova". The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has even threatened that if such actions persist, "Russia reserves the right to retaliate".
Moldova may be planning to aid NATO by training Ukraine's forces on its soil. If this is confirmed, it could be equated to Moldova's "direct engagement" in military operations in support of Ukraine.
In a discussion with the Polish Press Agency, Andrei Curararu from the analytical center Watchdog.md observed an increasing number of Kremlin provocations against Moldova.
The official Russian propaganda dedicates a disproportionate amount of attention to the small state of Moldova. The aim of Kremlin narratives is to instill fear among the Russian-speaking population and individuals who typically fall within the Russian information sphere. This enhances the messages generated and continually promoted by pro-Russian forces within the country - he explains.
According to Curararu, Putin is attempting to persuade Moldovans that without Russia, Moldova risks a humanitarian catastrophe. Threats have surfaced about severing the country entirely from the Russian market if they join the EU.
Meanwhile, there's a narrative that no one in the EU is truly expecting Moldova and that the integration process will hit a deadlock leading the country into a state of suspension, a constant waiting for EU promises to materialize - Curararu emphasizes.
A hybrid war between Russia and Moldova? The Institute raises the alarm
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides examples of actions designed to destabilize Moldova. One incident involved the reported kidnapping of two Transnistrian citizens to Ukraine on January 7. This was announced by the Russian-controlled Transnistrian Ministry of State Security, also known as the Russian Federal Security Service department.
The Kremlin reportedly staged similar false flag operations in Transnistria in April 2022 and February 2023. These provocations hoped to ensnare the region in warfare, however, Russia has yet to succeed.