Moldova’s defenses should be bolstered to help guard against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vision for an expanded Russia in Eastern Europe, U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.
In an interview with British newspaper the Telegraph, Truss said that despite the Russian retreat from Ukraine’s capital, Putin is bent on creating a “greater Russia” and one that has its eyes on other territories in Eastern Europe.
In line with greater support for Ukrainian defenses, one “vulnerable” state in the region that the NATO alliance should look to support is Moldova, Truss said.
“I would want to see Moldova equipped to NATO standard. This is a discussion we’re having with our allies,” Truss said.
“Putin has been absolutely clear about his ambitions to create a greater Russia — and just because his attempts to take Kyiv weren’t successful it doesn’t mean he’s abandoned those ambitions,” she added.
Moldova is a former Soviet republic sandwiched between the Romanian and Ukrainian borders. It does not share a frontier with Russia, but Putin’s advance through areas of eastern and southern Ukraine has edged towards Moldova’s territories, which sit inland from the Western bank of the Black Sea.
The country, led by President Maia Sandu, is not a member of the NATO alliance, but following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sought closer ties with the West, applying to join the European Union just two weeks after Russian forces broke into Ukrainian territory in February.
Sandu this week traveled to Brussels to lobby for her country’s EU membership bid. “We are aware that political decisions at the EU level have to be made. We are also aware that these are not easy decisions. But granting Moldova candidate status is the right decision. We belong in the European Union,” she told members of the European Parliament in Brussels.
The Moldovan president also highlighted that recent events in the region of Transnistria — a narrow strip of land between Moldova and Ukraine — have been a cause for concern. Three explosions were reported on April 25 and 26 in the region. “Recent tensions inside the Transnistrian region … have increased concerns over potential destabilization,” Sandu said.
Transnistria is a breakaway state that left Moldova following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. It has close ties to the Kremlin, and in late April, Russian military commander Rustam Minnekaev revealed that Moscow’s strategy was to establish a land corridor through Southern Ukraine all the way to Transnistria.