Moldova worried about finding itself in Vladimir Putin’s crosshairs

Day after day, the Ukrainian conflict is getting dangerously close to this tiny state of just over 2.5 million inhabitants.

Where will Vladimir Putin stop? Eighteen days after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the humanitarian situation is becoming extremely difficult in many cities of the country, including Mariupol, while several of the main Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kiev, are surrounded by soldiers.

As the days go by, the conflict seems to be moving to the west of the country, where the cities of Odessa and Lviv are located. A shift of concern, especially in Moldova, a country directly bordering Ukraine, which fears being collateral damage from the conflict or even attacked directly by Moscow.

Being worried about

Moldova, a former part of the USSR, is, like Ukraine, not a member of the European Union or NATO. Common points with Kiev, to which is added the secessionism of a region in the east of the country, Transnistria, which considers itself de facto independent after a civil war that killed 2000 people in the early 1990s.

In Chisinau, the country’s capital, the locals are absolutely not reassured by Russian intentions. “The situation has gotten out of hand,” said Anastasia, 70, at the BFMTV microphone.

“I am afraid of Odessa, my children live there. I walk here in the city, this is the city of my youth, everything is calm and I am afraid that this peace will be disturbed. Anything can happen, before I was sure that Russia wouldn’t invade Ukraine, but it happened,” she adds.

She’s not alone either. In the columns of West FranceTatiana, a woman in her fifties, also expresses her pessimism. “I’m afraid yes. We are waiting, but the bags are packed, just in case…”, she warns.

The issue of Transnistria

The situation of Transnistria is particularly interesting. This strip of land along the Ukrainian border, which still bears the communist hammer and sickle on its flag, is controlled from the outside by Russia. To date, 1,500 soldiers from Moscow camp there, a possibly underestimated number.

The location of this region is crucial. If we look at a map of Ukraine, it is headed straight for Odessa, a city clearly targeted by the Moscow army. “If Odessa falls, it is certain that the Russians will connect with their army of Transnistria,” forecast, with West FranceAleksander, a 33-year-old computer scientist from Moldova.

The country is also very divided about its future. According to the same media, if 54% of Moldovans want to join the European Union, despite everything, they still prefer to join the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), founded by Russia.

media war

A media war is currently raging in this largely Romanian-speaking Moldova, as many Russian-language television channels are also broadcast.

“It’s the Soviet heritage. We have three Russian state channels broadcasting and they weigh heavily here,” explains Franceinfo Nicolae Mocanu, director of TVR Moldova.

“The Russian propaganda is still as strong, they put a lot of money into it. It is very serious,” said Vasile Munteanu, TVR Moldova presenter, to national media.

According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), there were 105,000 Ukrainian refugees in Moldova on March 10.