The Russian Foreign Ministry announced today the expulsion of five Moldovan diplomats from Russia. The five Moldovan diplomats have three days to leave Russia and head back to Chisinau.
Moscow is responding to a similar move by Chisinau when the latter expelled five Russian diplomats without any official reasons.
“In response to the May 29th expulsion of five Russian diplomats from Chisinau, five employees of the Moldovan diplomatic mission in Moscow are declared persona non grata. They need to leave the territory of Russia within three days,” the ministry said.
Moscow responded by saying that the expulsion of its five diplomats from Moldova is counterproductive. By doing so, the expulsion is “destructive and contrary to the principles of partnership and mutual trust,” said the Foreign Ministry.
Moldova is currently stuck between a pro-European government and a pro-Russian president. Moldova’s president Igor Dodon described the expulsion of Russian diplomats as “outrageous” and as a move to undermine to Moldova-Russia relations.
According to Dodon, the move was most likely made on orders from the West.
“This has most likely been done on orders from the West, maybe even from across the ocean, by those who are worried that a constructive and effective dialogue has finally been found between the presidency and the Kremlin,” he said.
Russia’s response is clearly justified. However, the expulsion of diplomats is a step backward when it comes to dialogue and cooperation. According to the Moldovan parliament, the five Russian diplomats were expelled based on security issues but no other details were given. Based on its pro-European views, the parliament’s inability to justify the expulsion can be seen as a strategic move to undermine the Russian influence in Europe’s poorest country. By doing so, the parliament is clearly exposing its willingness to cut Russian ties and fully move towards the European Union.
As a matter of fact, with Dodon as president, Moldova has begun a new wave of diplomatic ties with Russia. President Dodon even asked Moscow not to make hasty decisions based on the parliament expulsion order.
“Dear Russian partners, over the last six months you have shown openness and readiness for strategic partnership. Do not give in to emotions and do not make hasty decisions in connection with these provocative actions of the Moldovan government,” Dodon said.
However, its pro-European parliament remains very close to Europe and has been constantly blaming Russia for Russian-led money laundering operations against its officials.
That said, Igor Dodon will have the opportunity to further discuss the issue with different levels of Russian leadership on the sidelines of the SPIEF set for June 1-3. Dodon also hopes for a meeting with President Putin.
Moldova remains heavily reliant on Russian energy supplies and the expulsion of its diplomats could have a negative effect on trade and future partnership.