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Russia prepares informational groundwork for destabilizing situation in Moldova - ISW

Russia prepares informational groundwork for destabilizing situation in Moldova - ISW Photo: Moscow shakes up the situation in Moldova by using unrecognized Transnistria (Getty Images)

The Russian Federation is attempting to use the unrecognized Transnistria to destabilize the situation in Moldova and is preparing an informational groundwork to justify Russian escalation in the region, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

As noted in the report, at the end of last year, the Moldovan authorities accused Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria of numerous violations, including improper use of drones during exercises, which led to an information attack by a pro-Kremlin military blogger.

Members of the Moldovan delegation to the Joint Control Commission (JCC) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) demanded an investigation by the Commission during a meeting on January 18 into the actions of Russian peacekeepers, involving the use of firearms, drones, and simulated weapons during exercises allegedly aimed at repelling a sabotage attack on the peacekeeping post in the Moldovan security zone on December 22, 2023.

Officially, Chisinau stated that the presence and use of this weaponry by Russian peacekeeping forces in the security zone violates JCC protocols, and Russian peacekeeping forces did not properly disclose some of these weapons and drones in their arsenal.

According to ISW, in response, a well-known pro-Kremlin Russian blogger claimed on January 21 that the Moldovan authorities were increasing pressure on the self-proclaimed Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, calling for the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers and exerting economic pressure on the quasi-entity.

The blogger argued that the Moldovan government imposed "double" duties on Transnistrian businesses, amounting to approximately $16 million over an unspecified period, leading to an increase in the cost of living in Transnistria. Recent changes to Moldova's Customs Code require Transnistrian enterprises to pay import duties to the Moldovan government, whereas previously, the "republic's" enterprises paid duties only to Tiraspol.

The military blogger claimed that this pressure supports the "forceful reintegration" of Transnistria into Moldova and that Russia should prepare for further escalation, citing recent accusations from "President" Vadim Krasnoselsky.

"The Kremlin-affiliated milblogger’s claims and Krasnoselsky’s accusations are likely part of an information operation aimed at destabilizing Moldova, which borders NATO member Romania, and justifying any future Russian escalation in the region," according to the ISW report.

The situation in Moldova and Transnistria

Recently, the President of Moldova, Maia Sandu, stated that in spring, Russia will once again attempt to destabilize the situation in the country, using the regime in the unrecognized Transnistria.

The Institute for the Study of War did not rule out that the Kremlin might use Transnistria to block the grain corridor.

ISW also reported that Russia, through Transnistria, may be preparing informational conditions for an operation to destabilize the situation in Moldova.

In November, Sandu accused Russia of bribing voters in local elections in Moldova.