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Romanian President Klaus Iohannis discussed energy, economic and security issues in Bucharest Thursday with his visiting Moldovan counterpart, as the two neighbors seek to boost ties amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Iohannis’ office said the talks with Moldovan President Maia Sandu would aim to bring her country closer to the 27-nation European Union, to which Romania belongs.
Afterwards, Sandu said Moldova’s strategic partnership with NATO-member Romania is yielding “concrete benefits.”
“Moldova is going through unprecedented challenges,” Sandu said, adding that over the past year, her country has faced “security challenges aimed at creating chaos and destabilizing our region.” Both countries border on Ukraine.
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Sandu’s visit came a week after she claimed Moscow was allegedly plotting to overthrow Moldova’s government, put the nation “at the disposal of Russia,” and derail its aspirations to join the EU. Russia strongly denied her claims.
“Some wanted our country to fall. To be able to establish a puppet government in Chisinau, servile to the interests of the Kremlin,” Sandu insisted Thursday. “The Republic of Moldova remains … determined on its way to the EU.”
Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis arrives for a European Union leaders’ summit on February 9, 2023, in Brussels, Belgium. Iohannis was visited by Moldova’s president on Thursday. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
Over the past year, Moldova, a former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people, has sought closer ties with its Western partners. Last June, it was granted EU candidate status, the same day as Ukraine.
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Since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, Moldova has faced a string of crises. These include severe energy problems after Moscow dramatically reduced gas supplies; rocketing inflation; several missiles that have traversed its skies from the fighting next door, and a huge inflow of war refugees.
Iohannis vowed on Thursday to continue to support Moldova, saying it “is not alone in facing these challenges.”
“I reiterate Romania’s firm condemnation of any Russian destabilization attempts,” he said. “Romania remains particularly vigilant towards Russia’s hybrid actions, which … are intensifying at the end of a year of war.”
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On Thursday, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed without evidence that Ukraine is planning an “armed provocation” against Moldova’s Moscow-backed breakaway region of Transnistria. Russia maintains about 1,500 “peacekeeping” troops in the region, which is internationally recognized as part of Moldova.
Moldovan authorities said they could not confirm the Russian assertion, but would inform the public “in case of any danger to the country.”