Moldova is in the midst of an urgent humanitarian crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine continue to flee and cross its border.
The outbreak of war recently prompted Chisinau to seek EU membership, but it also raised questions about Transnistria, a Russian-backed breakaway region that Moldova sees as an integral part of its territory.
To discuss the consequences, Sandor Ziros of Euronews spoke with Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilica.
“How do you see the security situation in your country with the war in Ukraine?” Is Moldova under direct military threat from Russia?
Natalia Gavrilica, Prime Minister of Moldova
“It’s very unfortunate what is happening in Ukraine. We condemn the war and strongly support Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. But at the moment we do not see any danger or risks in the Transnistrian region. We continue with our negotiation formats. Moldova is a neutral country. “Its neutrality is enshrined in the constitution and we expect everyone to act in accordance with this principle.”
“What is your plan if Russian troops do not stop at your borders?”
“This is a hypothetical scenario. We are currently very focused on managing large refugee flows. We have more than two hundred and fifty thousand people who have crossed the border from Ukraine. We are at our current capacity and we need international help to deal with this huge humanitarian crisis. “Therefore, we are concentrating on the challenges we are facing now instead of discussing a hypothetical scenario.”
“How do you deal with the massive influx of refugees compared to the relatively small size of your country?” Do you need more international help on this issue?
“We certainly have, as I mentioned, the largest influx of refugees Moldova has ever seen, but probably someday Europe, the speed, I think, and the size of the refugee flow is more than the UNHCR estimates.” before military action began. Moldova, of course, is also a country with the most limited resources, and we definitely need financial and humanitarian assistance to be able to support this wave of refugees. And as long as hostilities are ongoing, we expect this to continue. That is why we urgently seek green corridors to other countries, but also financial assistance to maintain the costs we are currently incurring in the last ten days.
“You have a breakaway region of Transnistria with a Russian military base in it. Do you think those soldiers could join the conflict?
“Indeed, we have the separatist region of Transnistria. We have Russian troops stationed there. For the last 30 years we have been constantly calling for the withdrawal of troops. We are not currently seeing any risks or engagement plans. But, of course, the situation is uncertain and depends on the evolution in Ukraine. “But as I said, we are a neutral country and we expect all international partners to act in accordance with the principle of neutrality.”
“How would Western integration work in the case of Moldova with a pro-Russian breakaway region in it?” And obviously, Vladimir Putin, who is trying to bring back the former Soviet Union, will try to block that. How do you view this issue? “
“Again, I think this is a hypothetical question. We are currently working within the agreed negotiation formats and will work with all international partners, depending on evolution and changing circumstances, to design the best way and the best negotiation formats to continue.
“You have previously mentioned the neutrality of your country. That means any accession to NATO is excluded, right?
“Indeed, this principle of neutrality is contained in the Constitution and we will advocate for EU integration, but we will not advocate for NATO membership.