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Moldovan President accuses Russia of plotting to destabilize the country

Radina Gigova and Rob Picheta

Moldova’s President Maia Sandu on Monday accused Russia of planning to use “saboteurs” to destabilize the former Soviet republic, echoing a claim made days earlier by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In an address on the presidential website, Sandu said statement by Zelensky “about the plans of the Russian Federation to destabilize the Republic of Moldova have been confirmed by our institutions.”

“Russia’s plan to carry out subversive actions on the territory of our state is not new,” she said. “Attempts to destabilize the situation and undermine the state were also made last autumn, but they did not achieve their goal thanks to the prompt intervention of our security and public order agencies.”

Sandu added that last fall, in anticipation of an energy crisis, there was a plan for “a series of actions involving saboteurs who have undergone military training and are disguised as civilians to carry out violent actions, attacks on government buildings and hostage-taking.”

Sandu also claimed individuals disguised as “the so-called opposition” were going to try forcing a change of power in Chisinau through “violent actions.”

CNN is unable to independently verify those claims.

On Thursday, Zelensky said Ukrainian intelligence intercepted a Russian plan to destabilize Moldova.

The next day, the prime minister of Moldova and her cabinet resigned — just hours after a Russian cruise missile crossed over the country’s territory. The Foreign Ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador over what it said was an “unacceptable violation of our airspace by a Russian missile.”

CNN has reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment on the allegations by Sandu and Zelensky.

Some context: The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in the emergence of a pro-Moscow de facto breakaway state along Moldova’s border with Ukraine known as Transnistria. Unrecognized by the international community, the 1,300-square mile enclave has played host to thousands of Russian troops and its economy is heavily dependent on Russian subsidies.

Concerns about Russia’s long-term plans for Transnistria have only intensified after Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last February.

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