Fake bombs and failed coup: Moldova smolders on the border of Russia’s war

A coup attempt, bomb hoaxes, internet hacks, fake conscription call-ups, mass protests: Moldova had them all in the past year, writes Reuters.com. “We had an explosion of security threats starting February 24 last year,” Interior Minister Ana Revenco told Reuters, describing a catalog of crises she says has beset her nation and its pro-Western government since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This small European country, a former Soviet republic, is a unique geopolitical cauldron.

Moldova hosts the breakaway statelet of Transnistria – a sliver of land running along its eastern border with Ukraine that’s controlled by pro-Russian separatists and garrisoned by Russian troops. The country is also home to the semi-autonomous region of Gagauzia, which is overwhelmingly pro-Russian too.


Moldovan officials paint a picture of a nation under constant duress from a misinformation and propaganda campaign orchestrated by Moscow which they say is designed to destabilize and undermine the government of President Maia Sandu, elected in 2020 on a promise to seek membership of the European Union.

“The leadership always focuses on everything anti-Russian,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last month. “They are slipping into anti-Russian hysteria.”

Nonetheless, Moscow has bristled at the possibility of Moldova – a country of 2.5 million people wedged between Ukraine and NATO member Romania – joining the EU.

Reuters Graphics

The alleged coup plot was publicised last month by Moldovan authorities, who said that the plan had been for agitators to enter Moldova from Russia and other countries in the region and attempt to provoke violent clashes. Officials expelled two unidentified alleged agents last week in connection with the unrest, though did not give details about the scale of the plan or whether it had met with any success.

Defence ministry official Valeriu Mija said the aim of the plot was as much to inflict a blow to the morale of the country as to actually overthrow the government: “We believe this incident is a part of psychological warfare.”

Bomb hoaxes have, meanwhile, become part of everyday life, consuming official resources, according to the interior ministry, which said authorities had received more than 400 fake threats by phone or email since last summer, requiring interventions by a total of 9,000 police officers.

Chisinau Airport, educational institutions, courts, hospitals, and shopping centers were among the hoax targets, the ministry said. Moldovan authorities said a series of cyberattacks over the past year had seen some government websites temporarily crashed and the phones of several officials hacked.

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