On May 16, 2023, in the “Free Vision” program of the GPB, Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the ruling “Georgian Dream” party, stated that Moldova has not imposed sanctions on Russia, has not cancelled flights with Russia, remains a member of the CIS, pursues a cautious policy with Russia; however, no one in the European Union scolds or accuses Moldova of being pro-Russian, as it happens in the case of Georgia.
Irakli Kobakhidze: “The constitution of Moldova states that the country will never become a member of NATO; until now, the country has not imposed sanctions on the Russian Federation, and there are flights, it just cannot be done physically because, unlike us, Moldova has a border only with Ukraine and the European Union, and its physically not possible to arrange flights between Russia and Moldova; otherwise Moldova has not made a decision to close flights. Everyone understands why Moldova is cautious. That is, if Moldova has a cautious policy, it is accepted in every sense, and no one criticizes it. None of the MEPs came out and said that the current government in Moldova is pro-Russian or something. […] When everyone understands the caution and pragmatism of Moldova, and ours, they don’t even understand half of it; when they understand that Moldova remains a member of the CIS, in the main union under the umbrella of Russia, and they understand twice as much caution of this country, and they don’t understand half of it, here Society should ask what the reason for this is. […]”
The claim voiced by Irakli Kobakhidze is partly false. Kobakhidze manipulates with the issue that Moldova has declared military neutrality, although, in April 2023, Moldova joined 4 of the EU’s sanctions regimes and imposed sanctions on 13 Russian citizens. It should also be noted that Moldova expressed its desire to leave the CIS and decided to initiate the procedure of leaving the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS. As for flights between Russia and Moldova, Moldova is not included in the list of countries that have closed the airspace to Russia in 2022, although the Civil Aviation Authority of Moldova has banned local airlines from flying to Russia.
Which anti-Russia sanctions did Moldova join?
In March 2023, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova, Nicu Popescu, stated in an interview with Radio Liberty that Moldova was joining the EU sanctions and would impose sanctions on a certain number of Russian citizens in a few weeks. The minister noted that in March 2023, the European Union asked Moldova to join the package of individual sanctions; this package of sanctions refers to the start of the war in Ukraine and is aimed at punishing a number of individuals for violating human rights. Popescu also noted that Moldova would join other sanctions in the future. The relevant decree was signed on March 21. Information about the sanctioned persons was released in April 2023. Moldova has joined 4 EU sanctions regimes; two of them are related to serious violations of human rights, and two are related to the situation in Syria and Mali.
Sanctioned persons are banned from entering Moldova and using the country as transit, not to mention, their financial assets are also frozen. Among those sanctioned are citizens of Russia, Myanmar, South Sudan and Afghanistan. Among the 13 sanctioned citizens of Russia, two are mainly members of the Wagner group. Those sanctioned also include two soldiers from the war in Ukraine who are accused of crimes against civilians, and two police officers who are accused of arbitrarily arresting and torturing anti-war demonstrators in Russia in March 2022.
In an interview with “Radio Liberty” in March, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Moldova noted that the issue of imposing economic sanctions on Russia had not yet been discussed; however, according to him, Chisinau had already “de facto” imposed financial sanctions in 2022.
After the start of the war, Moldova’s airspace was closed for several months. Moldova is not included in the list of countries that closed the airspace directly to Russia after the start of the war. However, it should be noted that in September 2022, after Air Moldova announced the resumption of flights to Russia, the Civil Aviation Authority of Moldova banned local airlines from flying in Russian airspace for security reasons.
In May 2023, Moldova started the process of leaving the CIS.
On May 15, 2023, the Speaker of the Parliament of Moldova, Igor Grosu, announced that Moldova would initiate the process of leaving the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Grosu noted that this is the first step towards leaving the CIS. The Chairman of the Parliament of Moldova noted that CIS membership did not help the country to settle the Transnistria conflict, or protect itself from the economic embargo and energy blackmail.
At the beginning of 2023, the Moldovan authorities announced that Moldova would withdraw from several agreements signed within the framework of the CIS. It should also be noted that after coming to power, President Maya Sandu did not attend a single meeting of the leaders of CIS member states.
The Neutrality of Moldova
Permanent neutrality was announced by Moldova in 1994 under Article 11 of the Constitution. Therefore, joining NATO is not the goal of the country. However, Moldova cooperates with the Alliance and wants to strengthen this cooperation.
Notably, the declaration of neutrality did not have a positive impact in terms of the restoration of the country’s territorial integrity. The issue of Transnistria still remains unresolved, and Russian troops are stationed on the territory of Moldova.
The issue of Georgia’s declaration of neutrality often becomes the subject of manipulations, and for these manipulations, various actors often cite the example of Moldova. Learn more on the topic in the article prepared by “Myth Detector:”
Noteworthy that the chairman of the “Georgian Dream” party voiced a false statement regarding Moldova in the past as well. See more:
- The Claim that Moldova does not have an Army is False (in Georgian)