Moldova’s prime minister Natalia Gavrilita has resigned citing a lack of support for her government as it struggles with the fallout from Russia’s war against neighbouring Ukraine, and efforts by Moscow to destabilise the country.
Since the war began almost a year ago, Moldova has had to contend with an influx of Ukrainian refugees, Russia’s severing of gas and electricity supplies and a collapse in foreign trade, driving inflation up to around 30 per cent and devastating the economy.
At the same time, Gavrilita’s pro-EU government has been attempting to ram through reforms demanded by Brussels before it can begin EU accession talks, weakening public support in the post-Soviet republic where pro-Russian sentiment has deep historical roots.
Her resignation on Friday, which is expected to trigger the departure of several other ministers, came shortly after a Russian missile fired at Ukraine violated Moldova’s airspace, and a day after the country’s intelligence agency said it was aware of plans by Moscow’s security services to undermine the Moldovan state.
“Moldova is expected with open arms inside the EU, Moldova has friends,” Gavrilita, who was appointed in August 2021, told a briefing in Chisinau. “If the government had the same support at home, we would have progressed faster.”
President Maia Sandu is expected to nominate a new prime minister on Friday afternoon following consultations with lawmakers.
“It is all calm and ordered,” a person briefed on the government formation discussions, told the Financial Times.
Gavrilita told the FT this week that Moldova was being subjected to “hybrid warfare” by Russia, including disinformation, cyber attacks and influence operations.
Moldova’s security services said on Thursday it had identified Russian intelligence operations attempting “subversive activities . . . with the aim of undermining the state of the Republic of Moldova, destabilising and violating public order.”
Chisinau has also accused Russia of using its forces inside Moldova’s separatist-controlled enclave of Transnistria to destabilise the country, through attacks on its infrastructure and interruptions to the energy links that run through the enclave to the rest of the state.
The EU made Moldova a candidate country to join the bloc in June, alongside Ukraine. Since Russian president Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion began last February, Brussels has stepped up support for Chisinau in the form of financial and humanitarian aid, and recently agreed a security assistance package.
Gavrilita led a delegation of senior Moldovan officials to Brussels this week for annual meetings with European Commission leaders, including president Ursula von der Leyen.
“Moldova can keep on counting on the EU, I told prime minister [Gavrilita],” von der Leyen said in a statement. “We proposed €145mn in new funding just last week and continue to support your economy and energy security.”