Moldova in the crosshairs.
We are approaching the one year anniversary of the Russian Campaign against Ukraine. The conflict appears to be in stasis while waiting for spring to arrive so that it will be easier to launch operations.
We have heard questions about what country would be the next target in case of a victory by the Russian Federation? Some have said the Baltic States would be a target others have suggested that Poland could be in the crosshairs. But there is one specific country that meets the criteria as defined under the Russian definition of a special operation.
That country is Moldova. Events beginning on Feb 10th suggest that there are currently programs designed to bring down the current leadership and possibly create a new route to further isolate Ukraine. There are currently Russian Troops stationed in the Transnistria region as well. Their presence does present a flashpoint for future tensions or a strategic goal to link forces attempting to advance through Ukraine to link up.
The resignation of Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita on Feb 10th appears to be the beginning of the most recent effort to bring about change in Moldova that will benefit Moscow. However the announced replacement of former Presidential Aide and former interior minister Dorin Recean has announced that he plans on continuing the pro-Western policies of the previous administration that had resigned.
That however proved to be the initial movement. Reports now suggest that before the resignation of the Gavrilita Ministry, Ukrainian President Zelinskyy disclosed during a meeting in Brussels that Ukrainian Intelligence Services had documentation that the Kremlin was planning to overthrow the Moldovan Government by use of foreign actors and internal criminal elements. This fact was confirmed on Feb 13th by Moldovan President Maia Sandu during a press conference in Chisinau.
One of the countries that some of the foreign actors are suspected to be hired from is Serbia. The Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has contacted the Moldova authorities seeking details regarding the claims of potential Serbian involvement in any effort to destabilize Moldova. The Foreign Minister also denied claims that any Serbians would be part of this effort as well.
Feb 14th also brought a new degree of chaos to Moldova. Airspace over Moldova was briefly closed to Air Traffic after a reported overflight by a reconnaissance drone. Some claims on Telegram channels reported that the aircraft took off from Belarus. Another UAV was also reported to have taken off from the same location and flew in the direction of Rumania.
So now the questions will fly. What will the next move in the effort look like? When will it take place? It appears that the second question will garner more interest as it will be seen as more crucial in the grand scheme of events. It is known that Russia wants to reunite its brethren currently living in states from the old Soviet Union. We have already seen this with how South Ossetia was taken away from Georgia and with the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in Ukraine. Simple logic dictates that we have to expect some type of action regarding Transnistria as well.
What is the takeaway? Should we assume that Russia is trying to regain the initiative in Ukraine by forcing an action in Moldova? It’s possible and should be expected as something to be utilized in the Russian Toolkit. Will it show desperation or a willingness to expand? That could be something to watch as well. However we look at events in the region the situation in Moldova cannot be ignored or taken lightly anymore.