Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says his country has intercepted plans by Russian secret services to destroy Moldova.
Speaking to European Union leaders in Brussels, Mr Zelensky said he recently told Moldovan President Maia Sandu about the alleged scheme.
‘I have informed her that we have intercepted the plan of the destruction of Moldova by the Russian intelligence,’ Mr Zelensky said through a translator.
He said the documents showed ‘who, when and how’ the plan would ‘break the democracy of Moldova and establish control over Moldova’.
Mr Zelensky said the plan was very similar to the one devised by Russia to take over Ukraine.
This comes as Moldova’s intelligence service said Thursday that Russia was acting to destabilise the country.
Ukrainian President Zelensky makes an address at the European Parliament on 9 February
Maia Sandu, the President of Moldova, pictured at a press briefing in Chisinau on 31 January
Transnistria, highlighted, is stationed with Russian troops . Russia may look to connect itself with the breakaway region of Moldova by launching an offensive through southern Ukraine
Zelensky said he did not know whether Moscow ultimately ordered the plan to be carried out.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said last week the West is considering turning Moldova into ‘another Ukraine’.
He said the West backed the 2020 election of the pro-western Ms Sandu, claiming she is eager to take the country into NATO, merge Moldova with Romania and ‘practically is ready for anything’.
Moldova’s intelligence and security service today responded to the earlier comments by Zelensky, adding: ‘SIS confirms that, both from the information presented by our Ukrainian partner and also from our operative activities, subversive activities with the aim of undermining the Republic of Moldova, of destabilisation and violating the public order were identified.’
In December, Moldova’s national intelligence agency said Russia could launch a new offensive this year with the aim of creating a land corridor through southern Ukraine to Moldova’s Moscow-backed breakaway region of Transnistria.
Transnistria broke away after a 1992 civil war but is not recognised by most countries.
It extends roughly 250 miles from the eastern bank of the Dniester River to the country’s border with Ukraine.
Russia has about 1,500 troops nominally as ‘peacekeepers’ in the breakaway region.
MEPs stood to applaud as Zelensky spoke in the European Parliament in Brussels this morning
Zelensky was welcomed to Brussels today with a standing ovation from EU leaders.
The Ukrainian president is on his second foreign trip since the start of the war in February 2022.
The leader has been lobbying for additional aid in the form of modern fighter jets and long range missiles.
Following visits to London and Paris, he told MEPs in Belgium: ‘We are defending against the most anti-European force of the modern world – we are defending ourselves, we Ukrainians on the battlefield, along with you.’
He added: ‘I have to thank you personally for your unwavering support of our country and our aspirations, our aspirations to live in a united, free Europe.’
The Russian embassy in London, meanwhile, mocked ‘the ex-comedian in a green sweatshirt now on tour around Europe.’
They said: ‘Zelensky’s pompous solicitations about the values of “freedom” and “human rights”, which Kyiv claims to be fighting for, were overtly hypocritical.’
American officials warned before the war that Putin might look to provoke Transnistria
Attacks between 25 and 27 April 2022 in Transnistria worried onlookers, who speculated Russia was looking to provoke their own Russian soldiers stationed in the region.
Before the war, American officials said Russia could use a false flag attack in Transnistria as a casus belli for invading Ukraine.
After the war started, a series of attacks in late April 2022 again arose suspicions.
The Ministry of State Security headquarters in Tiraspol, the region’s capital, was hit with explosions on 25 April.
Initial reports claimed the explosions were caused by rocket propelled grenades that only a few armies, including Russia, use.
That evening, Tiraspol Airport usffered a possible drone attack.
The next day, two explosions brought down radio antennae used to broadcast Russian stations in Maiac, a small town roughly seven miles (12km) west of the border with Ukraine.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak warned Russia was aiming to destabilise the breakaway region of Transnistria.
He said: ‘Russia wants to destabilise the Transnistrian region and hints Moldova should wait for ‘guests’.
‘Good news, Ukraine will definitely ensure strategic security of the region. But we need to work as a team.’
Attacks continued with more explosions at a former airport in Vărăncău and a drone attack in Vladimirovca.