Moldova’s prime minister on Sunday said she is “very worried” about Russia invading her country next as it makes advances in Ukraine’s east and south, near the Moldova-Ukraine border.
“It’s a hypothetical scenario for now, but if the military actions move further into the southwestern part of Ukraine and toward Odessa, then of course we are very worried,” Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”
Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. After an initial defeat in the western part of the country, Russia has made significant gains in the east, including the capture of key cities in the Luhansk region.
Russian troops are hoping to seize the eastern Donbas, the industrial heartland of Ukraine, and secure a land bridge to the Crimean Peninsula. Doing so would give them access to Transnistria, a breakaway region in Moldova supported by Russia that declared itself independent after a brief military conflict in 1992.
“We are very worried, especially considering that troops are on the territory of the secessionist Transnistria region,” Gavrilița said. “We are doing everything possible to maintain peace and stability and to ensure that the fighting does not escalate.”
Russia’s war, waged in part to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, has also backfired on Russia President Vladimir Putin, with both Sweden and Finland now fast-tracking their own applications to join the security alliance.
Moldova is a tiny nation with a population of around 2.5 million people. It was a part of the Soviet Union until 1991, breaking away from the Communist bloc as it was dissolving.
During the war in Ukraine, Moldova has sheltered around half a million Ukrainian refugees, at one time hosting more refugees per capita than any other country.
Moldova’s fear of a Russian invasion heightened in March, when a leaked photo showed Putin ally and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko pointing at Moldova on a battle map.
Gavrilița on Sunday said Putin’s aggression has created a “difficult situation” for other European countries, not just Moldova.
“If a country can start an annexation war without any regard for international law, then in this sense, nobody is safe,” she said. “I think a lot of countries are worried.”