The US intelligence community believes that individuals with ties to Russian intelligence are planning to stage protests in Moldova to try to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government, with the ultimate goal of seeing a more pro-Russia administration installed there, White House officials said Friday.
The US believes that Russia is working to weaken the Moldovan government, the officials said, which is seeking closer ties with the European Union. The US is also seeing signs that Russian government-linked actors could provide training to anti-government demonstrators in Moldova. Chisinau has been rocked by anti-government protests in recent weeks, largely organized by Moldova’s Russia-friendly Shor Party.
The US also believes that Moscow is working to sow disinformation about Moldova’s overall stability. One example was the Russian Ministry of Defense’s claim last month that Ukraine has been planning to invade Transnistria, Moldova's Moscow-backed separatist region.
US officials said those allegations are “unfounded, false, and create baseless alarm.”
Moldova’s President, Maia Sandu, said publicly last month that she believes the Russian government was planning “a series of actions involving saboteurs who have undergone military training and are disguised as civilians to carry out violent actions, attacks on government buildings and hostage-taking.”
Moldova has been a flashpoint on the periphery of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for the past year, with Russian missiles crossing into Moldovan airspace on several occasions, including this past February.
The Biden administration sees no immediate military threat to Moldova, officials said. But the US has been watching Russia’s activities in Moldova closely, wary of Russia’s ongoing efforts to destabilize Europe. President Joe Biden met with Sandu last month in Warsaw, where they discussed Russian malign influence activities.
The US Treasury sanctioned nine individuals and 12 entities in October that the US believed to be involved in working to destabilize Moldova.
CNN's Rob Picheta contributed to this post.