Leaders of Moldova who support the EU have rebuffed Russian claims that Ukraine is preparing an attack on the country's secessionist territory that supports Russia and urged restraint.
Without providing any supporting evidence, the Russian defense ministry claimed that Ukrainian saboteurs planned to stage an invasion of Transnistria while posing as Russian soldiers to justify an invasion by their country.
Weeks ago, Moldova issued a warning that Russia was preparing a coup.
As part of the war, officials also rejected Russia's claims that they were "psy-ops.".
According to state secretary Valeriu Mija, "the defense ministry thinks it's part of a psychological operation rather than a real plan.".
The president of Moldova, Maia Sandu, warned of unprecedented security challenges while visiting neighboring Romania.
She stated that "some wanted our nation to fall and a puppet regime devoted to Kremlin interests to be installed in Chisinau.".
Although Moldova is not a member of NATO, it received EU candidate status on the same day as Ukraine in June of last year. The president of the Republic of Moldova met with her earlier this week, and he assured her that he would uphold the sovereignty of her nation.
Moldova, which has a population of just 2 point 6 million people, has one of the poorest economies in Europe and has been severely impacted by the conflict in Ukraine.
Because of its outdated power infrastructure from the Soviet era, it has experienced a severe energy crisis. In addition to limiting its gas shipments, Russia also attacked Ukraine's electrical infrastructure, which had a ripple effect.
The populist and pro-Russian Sor party, led by fugitive oligarch Ilan Shor, has organized demonstrations in response to the mounting pressures brought on by rampant inflation and a significant influx of refugees from Ukraine.
The number of incidents that the new prime minister Dorin Recean refers to as "hybrid attacks" appears to have increased.
On the day his predecessor's government disintegrated earlier this month due to what he called "multiple crises," a Russian missile was fired at Ukraine through Moldovan airspace.
Russian saboteurs from Russia, Serbia, Belarus, and Montenegro are being used, according to President Sandu, in a plot to overthrow the government of Moldova. They would target government buildings, take hostages, and then start protests to overthrow the current administration and install one "at the service of Russia," according to her.
Twelve Serbian football fans had their entry to a game in Chisinau denied shortly after she finished speaking.
The Kremlin charged that the leaders of Moldova had descended into anti-Russian hysteria and cautioned them to be "very, very careful" with their words.
Moldova's internal socio-economic stability, according to political analyst Denis Cenusa, is the country's weakest point for forces that support Russia. He claimed that if Russia failed in the short term, it might succeed in the local elections this year and the 2024 presidential election.
Between the Dniester River and the Ukrainian border, on Moldova's eastern flank, is a small area of land known as Transnistria. It declared independence from Moldova in 1990 as the Soviet Union broke up and was largely populated by Russian speakers.
In 1992, after a brief border conflict, 1,500 Russian troops stationed there began to enforce the cease-fire.
One year ago, there were immediate concerns that Russian forces would attempt to seize Odesa and the entire coast leading to Transnistria. .
Although that has not occurred, what the leaders of Moldova are warning of right now is reminiscent of what took place in April 2022.
The separatist authorities in Transnistria claimed that a military unit, an old Soviet-era radio mast, and a state security headquarters were the targets of a string of unexplained explosions.
The authorities in Transnistria blamed Ukrainian "infiltrators" at the time as well. Invoking the special services of Russia, Kiev accused them of wanting to threaten Moldova and disturb the peace.
This week, a pro-secessionist social media outlet claimed to have spotted Ukrainian military equipment on the highway connecting Ukraine and Moldova, but an unconvincing image showed only a few small armored vehicles and a Ukrainian flag.
Although the people of Transnistria are not in a panic, Oleg Belyakov, the head of the country's peacekeeping organization, said that the Russian warnings "give reasons for serious concerns."