Moldovan PM says anti-aircraft system needed to counter Russia

By Alexander Tanas

CHISINAU (Reuters) – Prime Minister Dorin Recean said on Monday that Moldova needed an upgraded anti-aircraft defence system to counter threats from Russia heightened by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, its eastern neighbour.

Recean was speaking to a television interviewer three days after Moldova’s parliament approved a new security strategy identifying Moscow as the biggest security threat to the country and its pro-European government.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu has denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and accused the Kremlin of plotting to oust her.

The European Union last week agreed to start talks on expanding its membership to both Moldova and Ukraine. But, unlike Ukraine, Moldova has neutral status anchored in its constitution and is not seeking membership of the Atlantic Alliance.

Recean said Moldova intended, with the help of its EU and NATO allies, to acquire a modern air defence system to defend its airports and major infrastructure sites.

“If the Kremlin decides to attack us, just what are we going to do?” Recean told a TV8 interviewer. “Neutrality will not protect Moldova.”

Recean said developed countries “invest in their security to ensure that their citizens and businesses feel safe. If they don’t have that, people leave and take their capital with them. And that is what is now happening in Moldova.”

Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries, currently has only a rudimentary air defence system, a remnant of its time as a Soviet republic.

Ukraine has identified improved air defences as a critical element in countering what is expected to be a new wave of air strikes on its energy and other infrastructure sites — as occurred repeatedly last winter.

Recean repeated the main thesis of the new security strategy in singling out Russia as the biggest threat facing his country.

“The threat to our security is the Kremlin, the Russian Federation and how it relates to our neighbours and to us,” he told TV8.

He noted that Russia had halted imports of Moldova’s key farm goods this month and he cited a decree signed on Monday by Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin simplifying procedures for Moldovans to become Russian citizens. This, he said was “a bid to recruit cannon fodder for its war in Ukraine”.

(Reporting by Alexander Tanas, Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Michael Perry)