(CNN) A secret plan crafted by Russia’s security service, the FSB, elaborates destabilization options Moldova – Including support for pro-Russian groups, taking advantage of the Orthodox Church and threatening to cut off natural gas supplies.
The document appears to have been drawn up to thwart Moldova’s tendency toward the West, which includes closer ties with NATO and an application to join the European Union. He repeatedly points out the importance of preventing Moldova from joining NATO.
It was acquired and first disclosed by a consortium of media outlets, including VSquare, Frontstory, RISE Moldova, Expressen in Sweden, Dossier Center for Investigative Journalism, Yahoo News and Delfi.
CNN has seen the full document, which appears to have been written in 2021 by the FSB’s Directorate for Cross-Border Cooperation. Its title is “Strategic Objectives of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Moldova”.
The document outlines a 10-year strategy for bringing Moldova, a former Soviet republic sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, inland. Russiaits influence.
The plan includes making Moldova dependent on Russian gas imports and provoking social conflict, as well as trying to block Moldova’s efforts to gain influence in the breakaway, pro-Russian region of Transnistria, where about 1,500 Russian soldiers are stationed.
The five-page document is divided into multiple headings with short, medium and long term goals. Among the immediate goals were “supporting the political forces in Moldova that advocate constructive relations with the Russian Federation” and “neutralizing the initiatives of the Republic of Moldova aimed at eliminating the Russian military presence in Transnistria”.
Medium-term goals include “opposing Romania’s expansionist policy in the Republic of Moldova” and “opposing cooperation between the Republic of Moldova and NATO”.
The FSB document sets long-term goals including “the creation of stable pro-Russian influence groups in Moldova’s political and economic elites” and “the formation of a negative attitude towards NATO”.
Asked about the document on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We do not know anything about the existence of such a plan. I do not rule out that this is another fake. Russia has always been and remains open to building good-neighborly and mutually beneficial relations, Including with Moldova.
Peskov added: “We are very sorry that the current leadership of Moldova is witnessing unwarranted and unfounded prejudices against Moscow.”
Russia accused Ukraine of planning to invade and seize Transnistria, which borders southwestern Ukraine. Russia’s defense ministry said last month that Ukrainians had been collecting armor in several border villages. Both Moldova and Ukraine rejected this claim.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin revoked a 2012 decree upholding Moldova’s sovereignty, saying the move was to “guarantee Russia’s national interests in connection with the profound changes taking place in international relations.”
In recent weeks, the Moldovan authorities have arrested several alleged pro-Russian activists as well as an alleged agent of the private military company Wagner who tried to enter the country.
There were also several protests organized by a pro-Russian party in the capital Chisinau.
Both Ukraine and the United States have warned of Russian efforts to destabilize the Moldovan government. Last Friday, the White House said that “Russian actors, some with current ties to Russian intelligence, are seeking to organize and use the protests in Moldova as a basis for fomenting a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government.”
Western intelligence officials say the Russian strategy in itself is not surprising, but it may have been accelerated as the Moldovan government ramps up efforts to cooperate more closely with the United States and European countries.
The current Moldovan president, Maia Sandu, replaced Igor Dodon, who was close to the Kremlin, in late 2020. The pro-Western Islamic Party of Malaysia won parliamentary elections the following year.
The pro-Russian Shore party has held weekly demonstrations this year in the capital, Chisinau, drawing thousands of people to protest against high energy prices. The party organized transportation for the attendees.
The party is led by Ilan Schor, a businessman with links to Russia who is accused of stealing billions of dollars from Moldovan banks in 2014. He was later convicted of fraud but denied any wrongdoing.
The US Treasury Department sanctioned Shore, his wife, and the party in October 2022, saying that “Shor worked with Russian individuals to create a political coalition to gain control of the Parliament of Moldova, which would then support several pieces of legislation in favor of the Russian Federation.”
It is currently believed that Shor is in Israel.
The United States has pledged budget support to the Moldovan government to help it deal with high energy prices. Gas fees have risen over the past year as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.
The UK Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, was in Chisinau on Thursday. “Few societies understand the insidious tactics of malign Russian activity more than Moldova and Georgia,” he said, adding that “the UK will not stand by while Moscow flagrantly undermines its democracy, sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Cleverly announce more financial support for Moldova to deal with high energy prices.
Marina Tauber, one of Schur’s leaders, told CNN affiliate Sweden’s Expressen that the party is demanding that the government cover energy bills for the winter months. It denied that Russia was helping to organize or finance the protests.
Expressen correspondent Matthias Karlsson, who is based in Chisinau, told CNN that the latest protest organized by Shor on Friday last week resulted in a few arrests. Among the media who attended the event, he said, was a reporter with the Russian state-run outlet Sputnik.
Russian officials have repeatedly stressed the importance of a friendly Moldovan government to Moscow as well as the importance of the Transnistrian region.
Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February last year, the then commander of Russia’s Central Military District, Major General Rustam Minikaev, said that one of the goals of the so-called “military special operation” was to create a corridor through the south. Ukraine to Transnistria region.
The partnership that originally submitted the document also includes Süddeutsche Zeitung, Westdeuts Rundfunk (WDR) and Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR); Frontstory and Kiev Independent.
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