8th Dec 2023

EU sending anti-coup mission to Moldova in May

  • Refugees on Moldova-Ukraine border crossing in February 2022, after the Russian invasion (Photo: Moldova government)
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The EU is aiming to launch a new government-support mission to Moldova in May to counter Russia's "destabilising activities".

Called the EU Partnership Mission in Moldova (EUPM Moldova), the team of civilian advisors is to be set up using a "fast-track" process for an initial period of two years, "with a view to launching the mission at the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 May 2023," according to an internal EU memo.

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The Foreign Affairs Council is a regular meeting of EU foreign ministers.

The mission's tasks will be "enhancing the resilience of Moldova's security sector in the area of crisis management as well as enhancing resilience to hybrid threats, including cybersecurity, and countering foreign information manipulation and interference", the memo, dated 29 March and seen by EUobserver, said.

The mission's size and budget remain to be determined, but it is to be "scalable and modular in nature so that it can, over time, adapt to changing realities".

Its staff is also to have "specific expertise" on countering foreign espionage "as well as access to state-of-the-art technology".

The project comes amid what the memo called "destabilising activities by external actors", referring to previous accusations by Moldova, Ukraine, the EU, and the US that Russia is trying to stage a coup against Moldova's pro-Western government.

Moldovan authorities recently arrested seven allegedly Russian-trained saboteurs and blocked hundreds of suspicious foreign nationals from crossing the border as a precaution.

But Chișinău remains on edge amid popular discontent over the economic and refugee crisis arising from Russia's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine last year.

"Moldova's hosting of the European Political Community summit on 1 June 2023 could result in heightened hybrid and information manipulation threats," the EU memo also warned.

The European Political Community is an intergovernmental forum launched by France last year.

In other provisions, EU countries are buying Moldova €40m worth of non-lethal military equipment, including a mobile long-range radar system, after Russia fired missiles through Moldova's airspace earlier this year.

The US is planning to add a similar amount, more than doubling the impoverished country's tiny defence budget.

The EU already invested €47m in modernising Moldova's army in 2021 and 2022.

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