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‘People can’t afford milk’: Moldovans consider political future as Ukraine war hits economy | Moldova

eBlackouts, stray missiles and 35% inflation: The collateral damage from Russia’s war against Ukraine threatens neighboring Moldova beyond rising energy prices. “I see old people crying in front of the shop windows. says Carolina Tilla, who works at a corner store. Moldova’s reliance on energy imports is causing record inflation. Some products are priced twice as much as hers. Grocery sales have halved at her store, Tilla says.

“How can you save anything from your pension? He is one of many who have applied for government assistance in the face of gas and electricity prices up to six times higher than last year. “Without compensation, it would have been serious,” he adds Istrati. According to polls, more than 40% of him in Moldovans struggle with basic living expenses, and he, moreover, 21% of people cannot afford the minimum living expenses.

As the former Soviet republics cut almost all of their energy dependence on Russia to ease the burden of the winter, governments have had to turn to their Western partners for urgent financial support. Russia’s state gas company Gazprom cut supplies to Moldova in her October, while Kiev suspended power exports to Moldova in his October after airstrikes on Russia’s critical infrastructure, so Ukraine’s Dependence on electrical interconnection has made the country an indirect victim of violence.

Moldova’s foreign minister, Niku Popescu, has estimated that it will cost more than €1 billion (£860 million) to procure the alternative winter energy supply the country needs. So far, the government has managed to collect his third of the amount from her EU partners.

Ministers are keenly aware that the cost of living crisis poses political and geopolitical risks to this country of 2.5 million people. “Russian hybrid warfare in Moldova recreates the energy strategy used against Europe as a whole, but also includes a propaganda war, which we see in the media, social channels, on the streets and in protests “In response, governments are trying to diversify energy sources and gain support from Western partners.”

Some opposition politicians, particularly those from the Orl Party, have accused the government of being in economic trouble, arguing that the situation calls for a return to closer ties with Russia.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu exiting the back door of a car
Moldova’s President Maia Sandu attended a meeting of the Moldova Aid Platform in Paris last month. Photo: Yoan Valat/Reuters

Since the fall, Shuol has organized anti-government, pro-Russian protests in the center of Chisinau. Tens of thousands of people attended, some of whom are said to have paid to participate.

Representatives of Central Moldova have been accused of meeting Duma officials in Moscow and calling for an end to Russia’s embargo on Moldovan fruit to their district, Orhei, and special local gas trade.

The U.S. recently announced that as part of what Washington called its actions to counter Russia’s “persistent campaign of malicious influence and systemic corruption in Moldova,” party leader Iran The UK followed suit last week by naming Shore among 30 international politicians and banning money from entering the UK or flowing through UK banks. Shor reportedly fled Moldova to Israel in 2019 after being accused of corruption in a fraud investigation two years ago. He defended the provision of food and transportation to those wishing to participate in anti-government protests “against the stigma, poverty, hunger and cold for which they were condemned”.

Scholl and another opposition leader, Gheorghe Čavkariuk, who left Chisinau for London last summer after the pro-European PAS party won the election, joined the protests via video streaming. Both politicians claim the investigation against them in Moldova was politically motivated. However, their pro-Russian message was conveyed through Shoal-owned local and Russian television channels and was embraced by some Moldovans.

Under the pro-Western President Maia Sandu, Moldova applied for and was granted candidacy for EU membership. But a November poll showed public support for closer integration with the EU had fallen, with 50% of her Moldovans saying they would vote for membership, up from 65% in the summer of 2021. declining. – Old Ana, criticizing the Moldovan government’s loud denunciation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. “Our produce used to be sent to Russia, where gas and electricity were cheap back then,” she adds. Currently, about 60% of Moldova’s exports go to her EU and only 10% to Russia.

But the blackout turned other Moldovans against Russia. After his 24-hour blackout in parts of the country in November, #bezvas (#withoutyou) became a trending hashtag on his media in Moldova social. ? No light or no you? without you! Even former pro-Russian Moldovan President Igor Dodon condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, saying: “We should thank the Romanians for selling us electricity.”

Throughout November, Moldova purchased nearly 90% of its electricity from Romania after power supplies from the Russian-backed Transnistria dried up. On December 3, Romania exported gas to Chisinau for the first time. However, Romania struggles to meet its own needs.

The temporary deal, which Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Spinu called “humanitarian” because it would help avoid a major blackout, will allow Moldova to exchange cheaper electricity and gas shares from Transnistria. increase.

In the long term, however, Moldova should prioritize building new power interconnections with Romania and develop its renewable energy sector.

“There are two sides to this twisted war in Ukraine,” says Boshan. “If Ukraine resists and we resist, then we have a chance to integrate into the EU … But now it all depends on our efforts to inform the public of the opportunities open to us.”

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