Amid the ongoing large-scale conventional war in Ukraine, the government of Moldova is discussing the possibility of abandoning its neutral status and applying to join NATO, Moldovan President Maia Sandu said in an interview with Politico on Jan. 20.
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“Now, there is a serious discussion … about our capacity to defend ourselves, whether we can do it ourselves, or whether we should be part of a larger alliance,” Sandu said.
“And if we come, at some point, to the conclusion as a nation that we need to change neutrality, this should happen through a democratic process.”
Sandu stressed that Chisinau’s strengthening of its own defense, contrary to Russia's claims, is not a provocation against anyone, including against the unrecognized Transnistria – a region of Moldova which hosts a Russian military base.
“Moldova is a peaceful country,” she said.
“It’s not Moldova that started a war against its neighbors. Russian propaganda managed to convince part of our population that neutrality means you don’t have to invest in your defense sector, that neutrality means you do nothing and you have no capacity to defend yourself, which is wrong.”
According to the president, Moldova remains vulnerable to Russian hybrid warfare because of propaganda and disinformation. She noted that thanks to the “courage and fortitude of the Ukrainians,” her country hasn’t faced military threats yet.
“We are facing a range of risks, but none of it compares to the situation in Ukraine, and to the price that Ukrainians are paying,” she concluded.
On Jan. 19, Sandu said that Moldova had officially asked the allies to start supplying air defense systems and was counting on their support, after debris of several Russian missiles fell in Moldovan territory during Moscow’s air strikes on Ukraine.