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ISW: Russian activities in Moldova aim to foster distrust in Ukraine, West

Russia is engaging in initiatives in Moldova aimed to undermine the government and foster mistrust of the West and Ukraine. According to U.S. intelligence cited by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russia intends to “fabricate an insurrection” there in order to overthrow the government.

According to CNN, Russia spreads disinformation about Moldova’s alleged instability and supports it with information operations conducted from Russian-occupied (separatist) Transnistria

The White House, according to a CNN report, believes that individuals associated with Russian intelligence aim to organize protests against the government of Moldova in an effort to spark a “manufactured revolt” and install pro-Russian authorities in the country.

ISW has warned about multiple information operations taking place in Transnistria. These operations aim to weaken the Moldovan government’s position and create a lack of trust towards Ukraine and Western countries. One of the examples mentioned in the report includes reports spread by Russia about supposed plans for a Ukrainian attack on Transnistria or an attack on the separatist leader in the region.

US intelligence warned that individuals with ties to #Russian intelligence may be planning to attempt to instigate an insurrection in #Moldova.

Our latest:

— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) March 11, 2023

The American analytical center also notes that in Russia, near the border with Ukraine, the authorities continue to build defensive fortifications that “are most likely to never see any fighting.” This includes the Belgorod region, where the construction of these fortifications was justified by the threat of a Ukrainian attack, which ISW assessed as unlikely. A similar situation occurred in the Kursk region and in the depths of the annexed Crimea.

ISW suspects that the leaders of the Belgorod and Kursk areas “support information operations that portray Ukraine as a threat to Russian territory and the war as existential” by building defensive fortifications.

The building of fortifications in Crimea, on the other hand, “may signal that Russian forces are not confident in their capacity to maintain occupied regions in southern Ukraine for an extended term,” claims ISW.

ISW also refers to the mass forced deportations and adoptions of children from Ukraine by Russia, which “are a clear violation of the Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as well as part of a broader campaign of ethnic cleansing.”

ISW draws attention to Maria Lvova-Belova, the spokesperson for children’s rights in Russia, who acknowledged that children are being moved from the occupied territories to Russia (including under the pretext of “resting in sanatoriums”). The official claimed that the departures are “voluntary” and that the children can return to their family.

More than 16,000 cases of Ukrainian children being forcibly deported have been confirmed by Ukrainian authorities. The actual figure is likely much higher, as the Ukrainian authorities admit.

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