Moldova Cuts Russian Embassy Positions Amid Mounting Tensions and Accusations of Spying
'Unfriendly Actions' Prompts Expulsions
Amid escalating tensions and allegations of espionage, Moldova's foreign ministry informed Russia on Wednesday that 45 of its embassy positions in Chisinau, the country's capital, will be eliminated.
Moldova cites "unfriendly actions" towards the country and attempts to destabilize the nation as the rationale for the decision. The move comes as the situation continues to intensify between the two nations, amidst Russia's ongoing conflict in neighboring Ukraine.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the decision was made in response to "numerous unfriendly actions" against Moldova that exceed the scope of a diplomatic mandate, as well as efforts to destabilize the nation. Moldova shares borders with both Ukraine and Romania.
This significant reduction in the number of diplomats and technical or administrative staff follows recent allegations made by two local media outlets, Insider and Jurnal TV. The outlets published a joint investigation suggesting that the numerous satellite dishes and antennas situated on the rooftop of Russia's embassy could potentially be used for espionage.
In response to the investigative report, Russia's ambassador to Moldova was summoned. Moscow has been given until August 15 to comply with the decision, according to the ministry. The ruling affects 22 diplomats and 23 administrative staff in total.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Moldova's government spokesperson, Daniel Voda, explained that curtailing the number of accredited Russian diplomats in Moldova establishes "a situation in which fewer individuals have the chance to destabilize our country."
"In circumstances where employees are not involved in promoting bilateral relations, it becomes obvious that their diplomatic and administrative-technical representation is excessive,” Voda added.
Maria Zakharova, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, responded to the announcement in a press briefing on Wednesday, labeling it "another step in the destruction of bilateral relations." She warned that the "unjustified and unfriendly actions ... will not go unanswered."
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Moldova's leaders have repeatedly accused Moscow of initiating campaigns aimed at destabilizing the country. Moldova, a former Soviet republic until 1991, became a candidate for European Union membership last year.