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Russia plans to establish political control over Moldova by 2030

Wednesday, 15 March 2023, 10:07
Russia plans to establish political control over Moldova by 2030

Moldovan investigative journalists, in cooperation with news agencies from 10 other European countries and the United States, have learned about Russia's strategy of influence on Moldova, which was developed in the Kremlin about two years ago.

Source: The Dossier Centre [non-profit project, aimed at promoting the rule of law and civil society in Russia] and RISE (Moldova) published extensive material on this issue, as reported by European Pravda

Details: A wider consortium of journalists also received the Kremlin's Strategy, including the Estonian Delfi, the Ukrainian Kyiv Independent, the Belarusian Investigative Centre, Yahoo News (USA), three German media outlets, particularly Süddeutsche Zeitung, Westdeutscher Rundfunk and Norddeutscher Rundfunk, Swedish Expressen, Polish Frontstory and the Central European news portal VSquare.

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The document is called Strategic Goals of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Moldova and was drawn up in 2021. The investigators note that attempts to implement a number of its points in recent years have been seen in the public narrative of some Russia-oriented political forces.

Investigators believe that the document was prepared by the Russian Presidential Directorate for Border Cooperation, i.e., the same one that has plans to absorb Belarus by 2030, in cooperation with the secret services and the General Staff of Russia.

The source who provided the plan to journalists is certain that the document is genuine.

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The strategy defines 2030 as the "deadline" for taking political control of Moldova and distancing it from its Western partners.

The strategy has three main areas: military-political, economic and humanitarian.

Its goals are defined as: 1) countering the influence of NATO and the EU on Moldova; 2) involving Moldova in the CSTO and other international projects under the auspices of the Russian Federation; 3) "settlement of the Transnistrian conflict" through Russian mediation on the basis of the special status of the so-called "Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic"; 4) strengthening pro-Russian sentiment in society through information influence and educational programmes, and countering "Romanisation".

The document suggests that Russia had no plans for military intervention at the time, as its main goals were to put pressure on Moldova over the Transnistrian issue.

The Kremlin's plans included supporting pro-Russian political forces in Moldova and exploiting the country's dependence on Russian imports, including gas, to achieve its political goals. For the latter, it was planned to maintain the existing volumes of gas supplies. The Kremlin hoped to maintain significant exports of Russian goods to Moldova and lobby for the interests of businesses from Transnistria and the autonomous region of Gagauzia, where pro-Russian sentiment is strong.

To expand its informational influence, Russia wanted to prevent restrictions on its media resources (which ultimately failed, as in 2022 the Moldovan authorities closed six TV channels), as well as to create a network of loyal non-governmental organisations, such as the Moldovan-Russian Business Union, founded by former President Igor Dodon.

The plan was to "discredit NATO" among Moldovans by 2025. The same medium-term goal was to "counter Romania's expansionist policy in Moldova".

The Kremlin hoped to increase the number of Russian media outlets by 2030, preserve the status of the interethnic communication language for Russian and "reduce the presence of third-country currencies" in settlements with Russia.

"The goal is not to insidiously annex the country, but to strengthen pro-Russian influence in Moldova, primarily to prevent pro-NATO, pro-European trends. The Kremlin sees Moldova as a buffer to Russia rather than a part of the Russian Empire. As with Georgia, it is more about putting a stop sign to the West and preventing the country from joining the EU and NATO in every way possible," a Moldovan intelligence source told journalists.

Based on the document, the journalists identified two more people who are allegedly Russian "handlers" for Moldova - in addition to the individuals who were the subject of a separate investigation in the autumn of 2022.

The source who handed over the document states that the strategy was drawn up by Andrei Vavilov from the Kremlin's Office for Border Cooperation. Vavilov is allegedly a graduate of the FSB Academy and had worked for the intelligence service for about 10 years before moving to the Kremlin.

Another possible co-author of the document is Viktor Lysenko, deputy Head of the Department for Interregional and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, where Vavilov used to work. His immediate superior is likely to be Dmitry Kozak, deputy Head of the Russian President’s Administration, with whom he has worked closely for about 10 years. Sources say that Lysenko "manually supervises Moldovan affairs".

The mobile phone billing records obtained by the Dossier Centre and RISE suggest that Lysenko regularly communicates with FSB General Dmitriy Milutin, who is the intelligence services' "handler of Moldova". Between November 2021 and May 2022, they communicated via open communication at least 10 times.

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