It is known, the next "Ukraine" is...
U.S. and Moldovan officials claim that the Russian president is ready to open another front behind the scenes of the war in Ukraine.Source: Blic
A sign of that intention can be seen in the Kremlin's alleged intention to overthrow the current Moldovan government and incite unrest through protests in the country, an U.S. diplomat who recently visited Moldova told "The Daily Beast".
Michael Carpenter, the U.S. permanent representative to the OSCE, said that the Russian information campaign, which relies on social media and Russian government officials as voices to increase tensions in Moldova, is currently "intense".
"The ultimate goal is to undermine the pro-Western government of President Maia Sandu and return the country, which declared independence from the USSR in 1991, back into the Russian arms," said Michael Carpenter.
Moldovan ambassador to the US Viorel Ursu told "Daily Beast" that this campaign is only the latest in a series of efforts by Russia to spread a pro-Russian, anti-Western climate in the post-Soviet states, while continuing the war in Ukraine and trying to appropriate territories with historical ties to the USSR, he pointed out.
The warning of Russian intelligence operations to foment unrest in Moldova came days after Sandu warned that Chisinau had knowledge of a Russian plot to stage a coup in the country.
In mid-February, Sandu spoke about Russia's plans to organize a coup in the country, including opposition protests and the engagement of participants in military training, as well as citizens of Russia, Belarus, Serbia and Montenegro, to attack government buildings and overthrow the government.
Ursu said the influence operation consists of a network of campaigns – from television to social networks, including Telegram and Facebook.
In recent weeks, Moscow has been working according to its typical agenda - exacerbating internal tensions in another country on the Internet, according to the Daily Beast.
"There is real discontent (in the country) because of the high prices, but this gives Russia an opportunity to infiltrate more provocative elements among the protesters," Ursu said.
The operation, which is said to be focused on spreading anti-government slogans and inciting protesters to demand that the government pay for electricity, has already spilled over into physical reality.
It is recalled that a protest was held in Chisinau on Sunday, during which demonstrators chanted "Down with the dictatorship", as well as "Down with President Maia Sandu", which ended with the protesters agreeing on the text of the resolution demanding the Moldovan government to pay heating and electricity bills, as reported by RIA.
General Secretary of the Moldovan Presidential Office, Andrei Spinu, said on Sunday on "Telegram" that "what happened today in the center of the capital was not a protest."
"We have to say it openly, it was another failed attempt by Russia to destabilize Moldova," he added.
On Friday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russian actors, some with ties to Russian intelligence, wanted to organize and use the protests in Moldova as a basis to incite a staged rebellion against the Moldovan government. On the same day, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said there were "several ongoing intelligence operations in Transnistria".
We believe that Russia is looking for options to weaken the Moldovan government, probably with the ultimate goal of seeing a friendly administration in the capital - said Kirby.
Moreover, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov threatened last month that Moldova could become "the next Ukraine."
In addition to warnings of a coup in the country, Moldovan officials have been sounding the alarm about potential military action by Russia for weeks. The head of Moldova's Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) Alexandru Musteata has suggested that Russia could invade Moldova in March or April.