Russian Senator Andrey Klimov warned Moldova this week that it risks "repeating the Ukrainian scenario".

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin commented last month that Moldova's close ties with NATO undermined the country's security.

Galuzin also advised Moldova not to repeat the "sad experience" of Ukraine.

"Ukraine's catastrophic problems began after the pro-Western coup (2014), followed by the rejection of the constitutional neutrality that existed until then and the official announcement of a policy of joining the anti-Russian NATO military bloc," Andrey Klimov menacingly reminded in Telegram.

The reason for his reaction was an interview of the President of Moldova, Maya Sandu, for the Brussels publication "Politico", given during the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, writes BTA.

In the context of the war in Ukraine, there is a "serious discussion" in Chisinau about the possibility of abandoning the neutrality enshrined in the constitution and the country joining a "broader military alliance", Maja Sandu told Politico.

She did not name the military alliance, but Politico ran the headline "Time for NATO Membership?".

Moldova is in a very delicate situation: on the one hand, it has taken a pro-Western and pro-European trajectory, and on the other hand, it does not want to worsen its relations with Russia to the point where Moscow would use military force. 

Russia, for its part, continues to consider the former Soviet republic in its sphere of influence.

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But this is not the geopolitical space that Chisinau is targeting.

Just a week after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, Moldova formally applied for EU membership, and in June the EU granted the country candidate status.

The authorities in Chisinau hope to join the EU by 2030.

The Moldovan government is divided over possible NATO accession, but the country has cooperated with the alliance for years.

In December of

for the first time, a Moldovan foreign minister attended a NATO ministerial meeting.

At the forum held in Bucharest, the Allies reaffirmed their support for the Republic of Moldova, including by providing training to the Moldovan Defense Forces.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Moldovan President Maya Sandu called on allies to help strengthen the country's air defenses.

"We have asked for air surveillance and defense systems," Sandu told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the forum, adding that he was aware that providing them to "Ukraine is a priority" but hoped Moldova would also get some.

Sandu rejected any interpretation that Moldova's efforts to strengthen its defenses were provocative, saying Russia, not Ukraine or Moldova, was the aggressor.

"Moldova is a peaceful country. It is not Moldova that has started a war against its neighbors," she pointed out in the interview with Politico.

Asked about potential NATO membership, the president said her country was still considering what the next step would be and whether a constitutional change would be necessary.

"There is now a serious discussion (...) about our ability to defend ourselves, whether we can go it alone or whether we should be part of a larger alliance," Sandu said.

"If at some point we come to the conclusion that we need to change neutrality, it should be done through a democratic process," she stressed.

Her interview, however, provoked the violent reaction of Senator Andrey Klimov, who is not the first to deal with Moldova.

"Is Mrs. Sandu so indifferent to Moldovans and is she so dependent on Washington, on its European servants, that she is ready to repeat the suicidal policy of such traitors as Poroshenko and Zelensky?!" Klimov asked in Telegram. 

He also addressed the citizens of Moldova directly: "Isn't it time, dear neighbors, for you to draw conclusions about the intentions of your current leaders to turn the Moldovan territories into another field of military action by NATO? And perhaps the goal of Sandu and company is to turn Moldova into a province of NATO Romania (perhaps one of the most backward NATO member countries)?" asked Klimov rhetorically, quoted by Romanian media.

A similar warning was given in December by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Mikhail Galuzin: "Intensification of cooperation in the military and military-technical spheres between Chisinau and NATO countries is a factor that further undermines Moldova's security. Past experience shows that recklessly supplying a country with Western weapons or deploying NATO troops on its territory does not contribute to its security and sovereignty, but on the contrary - brings it closer to disaster," said the Russian diplomat.

Currently, Moldova is certainly far from NATO membership, although it signed an Individual Partnership Action Plan back in 2006 and has been cooperating with the Alliance for years.

The government is divided on the subject of Euro-Atlantic integration: Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilica and her Action and Solidarity Party support EU membership, but not NATO membership.

The second largest party in parliament, the Bloc of Communists and Socialists, strongly opposes joining NATO.

Some Moldovan politicians, such as former Prime Minister Yuri Lyanka, support the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčunification with NATO member Romania.

Along with internal disagreements, an obvious obstacle to Moldova's integration into NATO is the presence of Russian soldiers on the territory of Moldova - in Transnistria.

The separatist region, with a population of around 500,000 people - mainly Russians, Ukrainians, Moldovans and Bulgarians - declared itself an independent state in the 1990s after a brief war with Moldova.

In 2005, Chisinau granted Transnistria autonomy by law.

Until now, Transnistria is not recognized by any country, including Russia, which provides it with economic and military aid, including free gas.

Tensions rose in April this year after several explosions went off in Transnistria.

This raised fears that Moldova could be drawn into Russia's war.

Several Russian government officials have spoken of seizing enough territory in southern Ukraine to connect Russian-held areas with Transnistria.

The director of Moldova's Intelligence and Security Service, Alexandru Mustiaca, voiced his concerns in an interview with Moldovan public television in December.

Mustyatsa stated that Russia's goal of establishing a land link to Transnistria is still valid at the moment, and a new offensive by the Russian Federation in this direction could be carried out in 2023. However, Mustyatsa added that this will depend on the development of the war in Ukraine .

In the summer, after Moldova received candidate status for EU membership, the foreign minister of unrecognized Transnistria said they were determined to achieve independence there and unite with Russia, the Associated Press reported.

Vitaly Ignatiev stated at a press conference in Moscow that "Moldova has crossed an undoubted Rubicon" with the application for EU membership.

"This put an end to the issue of building political relations within certain common spaces, because this decision was made solely by the Moldovan leadership. No one can speak on our behalf," Ignatiev said.

In his words, Transnistria will pursue the goals set in a 2006 referendum: "Independent development of Transnistria and subsequent free entry into the Russian Federation".

There are about 2,000 Russian soldiers in Transnistria.

Most of them guard an ammunition depot in Kobasna, which is the largest in Eastern Europe.

The separatists also have their own armed forces, numbering between 4,000 and 7,500 people, but it is not clear how combat-ready and equipped they are.

In light of the developments in the region, Moldova has decided to take measures for its protection.

The Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament, Igor Grossu, recently stated in Bucharest that the defense budget has been doubled despite the neutrality enshrined in the constitution.

The former Minister of Defense of Moldova, Alexandru Flencchia, commented that precisely because of the neutrality status and due to lack of funds, Moldova never spent much on defense. 

Following the change in the security environment, the budget of the Moldovan army for this year was increased by 68 percent compared to 2022. However, it amounts to only 0.55 percent of the gross domestic product.

Active military personnel number about 5,000 and reservists number about 60,000.

However, Moldova is dangerously close to the conflict in Ukraine.

Ten days ago, debris from rockets fell for the third time in the northern part of the country.

Attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure also left Moldova without power.

Overall, Moldovan President Maya Sandu believes that her country remains very "vulnerable" and is subject to Russian hybrid warfare through propaganda and disinformation. 

Last year, Moldova temporarily took six TV channels off the air because of "false information" about the country and the war in Ukraine.

The channels, which broadcast in both Romanian and Russian, are closely linked to politician and businessman Ilan Shor, who fled in 2019 to Israel after Sandu's election. 

Since last fall, Moldova has been subjected to an unprecedented wave of cyberattacks, the Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament Igor Grossu also pointed out.

The president of Moldova believes that her country has been spared a military threat for now, "thanks to the courage and endurance of the Ukrainians."

In his warnings to Moldova in Telegram, Russian senator Andrey Klimov, who is also the vice-chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Council of the Russian Federation, claims that the number of dead in Ukraine is the same as the population of Moldova (2.6 million people per 1 January 2022, according to data from the Moldovan Statistical Institute).

Klimov earlier sent another veiled threat: "Nazism and neo-Nazism flourish not only in Ukraine, and the topic of denazification is not limited to the territory of this country," the senator said, stressing that "denazification" can be achieved through various methods, not just by means of a "military operation".