Moldovans – concerned that the conflict in Ukraine would spread to their country

NPR’s Scott Simon speaks with Moldovan official Alexandru Flenchea about fears that Russia’s war in Ukraine could spill over into neighboring Moldova.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has Moldova worried that they could be next. The small country next to Ukraine has no NATO protection and only candidate status in the European Union. It has also struggled with a pro-Russian separatist movement for decades. And to this day, Russian troops are stationed in a breakaway region called Transnistria. We are joined now by Alexandru Flenchea. He’s the former deputy prime minister for reintegration and currently represents Moldova in the peacekeeping effort between that government, Russia, and Transnistria. Thanks so much for being with us, Mr. Flenchea.

ALEXANDRU FLENCHEA: Good morning. And I’m glad to be here.

SIMON: Why are Moldovans concerned with the war in Ukraine next door that they might get caught up in it?

FLENCHEA: Of all Ukraine’s neighbors, Moldova is closest to the battlefields. Russian cruise missiles overfly Moldovan airspace. Russian missile debris have fallen on Moldovan territory several times. So we have already encountered a number of significant security incidents. But one should not disregard the economic impact of this war on Moldova. Investments are not coming for these reasons because the war is next door. Moldovan businesspeople move their businesses to neighboring Romania, which provides them greater security because Romania’s EU and NATO member state.

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SIMON: You oversee the Moldovan government’s peacekeeping efforts between the three sides. What has that been like? What have people been saying? What have you had to do?

FLENCHEA: My routine activity is basically attending the weekly meetings of the so-called Joint Control Commission, which has three components, a Moldovan delegation, Russian delegation and Transnistrian. What I found, to be honest, is lots of absurd. And the greatest absurd is that this so-called peacekeeping mission exists at all. Picture this – there is peacekeeper checkpoints along the division line, and these peacekeepers’ checkpoints are trilateral, which means that armed Moldovan, Transnistrian and Russian military do their service 24/7 together for 30 years. Do we need those peacekeepers at all? I’m pretty certain we don’t.

SIMON: Why is any of this necessary?

FLENCHEA: Because it is just a legal cover for Russia to maintain its military presence on Moldova’s soil. All of Moldova’s governments in the past 20 years have demanded that this mission be dismantled and replaced with an international civilian force under a relevant international mandate. Russia has always opposed that because, again, that gives them the pretext to maintain their military on Moldova’s soil.

In order to see the second part of the interview, where the potential coup and election interference are addressed, click HERE.

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