PARIS — A group of European nations led by Germany and France pledged millions of euros in fresh support for Moldova on Monday, but leaders of the Eastern European country urged a speedier deployment of such aid as Russia intensifies its energy blackmail.
Moldova, a landlocked nation between Romania and Ukraine, is facing the prospect of a serious economic and political crisis as Russia drastically reduces gas deliveries to punish the country for its pro-European stance. Meanwhile, the country is also suffering from power outages because the energy infrastructure in neighboring Ukraine has been hampered by Moscow’s war, leading to skyrocketing energy prices and inflation.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu told delegates at a support conference in the French capital that her country faces “an acute energy crisis” that could “jeopardize our social peace and security.”
“This war is endangering the supplies of energy and gas. We are not certain that we can find enough volumes to heat and light our homes. And even if we do, the prices are unaffordable for our people and economy,” Sandu warned.
At the conference, France announced €100 million and Germany about €32 million in new financial aid for the crisis-hit country, on top of about €200 million worth of support that both countries had pledged previously. Several other EU countries including Sweden, Italy and Luxembourg also participated in the conference, but there was no immediate tally of total pledges available.
Yet Moldova’s Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu warned that his country — which has EU membership candidate status — needed not only financial pledges from the EU, but also more speed in implementing European initiatives, such as improving Moldova’s connectivity to European gas and energy networks.
“A lot of good, positive dynamics between the European Union and Moldova are happening,” Popescu told reporters later at a press conference, during which he thanked the EU countries for their support, but also said: “At the same time, yes, we want this to be faster.”
“The truth is that many of the procedures of international cooperation, of international donors, of international institutions, are designed for times of peace, not for times of war,” Popescu said. “And here we all really need to dramatically increase the speed with which we deliver on concrete projects, including when it comes to connectivity.”
Popescu added: “We need to make sure that our society can absorb these shocks caused by the war.”
Moldova’s pro-European government is facing domestic political pressure and protests led by pro-Russian opposition leader Ilan Shor.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who also spoke earlier at the conference, said Moldova’s difficult economic situation is being “used by supporters of Russia, by the enemies of Europe, to organize paid demonstrations every day to destabilize the president and her government.”
Sandu backed that assessment: “Our democracy is under attack by corrupt criminal groups backed by Russia,” she said. “We are facing a hybrid war against Moldova that seeks to divert us from European integration.”