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Leaked document exposes Kremlin’s 10-year plan of undermining Moldova

An international consortium of media outlets, including the Kyiv Independent, has obtained a leaked document that suggests Russia is intending to gain control over Moldova, a nation of 2.6 million people bordering Ukraine and the EU.

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The document is titled “Strategic goals of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Moldova,” and the plan allegedly created by the Kremlin’s Directorate for Cross-Border Cooperation, back in 2021.

The plan sets out Moscow’s key goals that include ensuring Moldovan policymakers and society in general have a negative disposition towards NATO and that pro-Russian influence groups have a strong presence in their politics and the economy.

The document also envisions Transnistria remaining a breakaway region, with Russian troops still being stationed there.

Another goal is magnifying the presence of Russian media in Moldova and making the Russian language an official language in the country.

The document also aims to counter attempts of external actors to interfere in Moldova’s internal affairs thereby weakening the position of Russia. As a counterweight, it envisions Moldova’s deeper involvement in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Moscow’s version of NATO, and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.

Russian influence
Moldova was highly vulnerable to Russian influence in the past, and Russian-friendly political projects had strong support among its population. However, in 2020, Moldova elected pro-Western Maia Sandu as president, and the pro-Western Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), led by Sandu, won an overwhelming parliamentary majority in 2021.

The leaked document shows that Russia seeks to increase its already strong influence in Moldova furthermore by 2030, a plan that Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Recean said is a major threat to Moldova’s statehood. He said Russia’s military aims are not the biggest threat, but rather its economic and political pressure.

The leaked document sets out the Directorate for Cross-Border Cooperation’s goals to exert control over neighboring countries that Russia sees as part of its sphere of influence. Since August 2021, this department has overseen so-called “cooperation” with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. The Directorate is led by Alexey Filatov, who reports directly to Dmitri Kozak, deputy chief of President Vladimir Putin’s administration.

The document also aims to increase the number of Russian non-profit organizations, students, and language presence in Moldova, as well as the capacity of Russian media in the country.

According to representatives of Western intelligence, the document was allegedly created in 2021 in a joint effort by several Russian agencies, including Russia’s domestic, foreign, and military intelligence.

Most of Russia’s plans were derailed by its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, which brought Moldova closer to the European Union. In June 2022, the European Council granted candidate status to Moldova and Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the leaked document indicates that Russia’s attempts to subvert Moldova are ongoing. Among short-term goals set for 2022 that Russia failed to achieve was also to “neutralize attempts to restrict the activities of Russian and pro-Russian media in Moldova.”

Situation in Moldova
In late 2022, the Moldovan government had blocked six TV channels for spreading misinformation about Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The Kremlin also failed to open a Consulate General in Moldova’s second-largest city, Balti, due to pressure from the Moldovan authorities. The Moldovan government proceeded to expel five Russian diplomats in April 2021, accusing them of “activities incompatible with their diplomatic status.”

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