EU to step up support for Moldova at summit in face of threat from Russia | Moldova

The EU is stepping up support for Moldova as 46 EU and European leaders descend on its capital in a show of financial and political solidarity in the face of the threat from Russia.

Nestled between Ukraine and the EU, the country of 2.6 million people will be propelled on to the international stage on Thursday when the European Political Community (EPC) meets for the second time, eight months after its inaugural meeting attended by Liz Truss.

Initially envisaged by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, as a platform for unity across the wider European front, it will bring together the leaders of the 27 EU member states, as well as Ukraine, Turkey, the UK, and other countries in the Balkans.

Top of the agenda will be security and energy supplies that have been part-funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which has over the years pumped a total of €2bn (£1.74bn) into the economy and helped it secure gas supplies.

EBRD invested €525m into the country’s economy last year.

At 4% of its GDP, it is a record EBRD investment and fivefold increase on 2021, as the country struggled with high inflation and the fallout of the war, along with the presence of some Russian troops in Transnistria, a breakaway region and post-Soviet conflict zone.

On energy, the bank specifically lent the government €300m to diversify its suppliers away from Russia, which last year offered cheaper gas in exchange for Moldova weakening ties with the EU.

In the face of such open Russian manoeuvres, the EU will be backing up the financial muscle provided by the EBRD and an €87m EU contribution to non-military logistical aid with a civilian mission in the capital, Chișinău, at the invitation of Moldova.

It will be staffed by up to 50 officials and open on Tuesday, with the aim of building the country’s resilience against disinformation and cyber-attacks, with support at strategic and technical levels.

The mission will initially have a mandate for two years and will parallel an existing EU hub that is providing support in six key areas including human smuggling and trafficking, violent extremism,cybercrime and drug trafficking.

Last week Moldova’s prime minister, Dorin Recean, said that before the Ukraine war his country was 100% dependent on Russia for its gas.

“Today Moldova can exist with absolutely no natural gas or electricity from Russia,” he said.

The country’s president, Maia Sandu, is expected to use the EPC summit to push for quicker access to the EU, something she sees as the only guarantee against becoming Russia’s next target.

“We do believe that Russia will continue to be a big source of instability for the years to come and we need to protect ourselves,” said Sandu, on the sidelines of a Council of Europe summit in Iceland two weeks ago.

“We do believe that this [EU membership] is a realistic project for us and we are looking forward to see this happening as soon as possible,” she added.

Last year Ukraine and Moldova won official candidate status to join the EU along with Georgia, but accession could take years to achieve.

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