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07 Mar 2024

France and Moldova to sign defence pact amid fears of Russian destabilisation: Reuters

France and Moldova to sign defence pact amid fears of Russian destabilisation: Reuters
Credit: Ministry of Defence of Moldova
Originally posted on Reuters - By John Irish and Elizabeth Pineau

Moldova and France will sign a defence cooperation accord on Thursday as part of the West's efforts to strengthen the former Soviet state's capabilities amid what they fear are increasing efforts by Russia to destabilise Moldova.

Moldova, a western neighbour of Ukraine, has a tiny defence budget and has long had tense relations with Moscow, which have worsened as Chisinau backs Ukraine in the war against Russia.

Russia has troops and peacekeepers based in Transdniestria, a breakaway statelet of Moldova that has maintained its autonomy for three decades with the Kremlin's support.

The French presidency said in a statement on Wednesday that defence and economic cooperation accords would be signed when President Emmanuel Macron meets his Moldovan counterpart Maia Sandu in Paris.

He would underline his "support for the independence, sovereignty and security of the Republic of Moldova, in the context of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine," it said.

The two countries reached an initial accord in September that covers training of military personnel, regular defence dialogue and intelligence sharing.

The letter of intent also said Paris would support Chisinau's efforts to see how to develop its military capabilities, including the possible purchase of anti-air defence capacities similar to France's Mistral system.

At the time, Moldova announced it had bought Thales-made GM200 radar enabling it to improve aerial surveillance to detect and track targets moving from low to very high altitude.

France's defence minister said it would carry out an audit of Moldova's air defence means to help strengthen the security of Moldovan skies.

In parallel to Sandu's visit, Western states will hold an audio call hosted by France to discuss increasing support for Ukraine, but also Moldova.

The Transdniestria region asked Russia in February to help its economy withstand Moldovan "pressure", at a meeting of hundreds of officials dismissed by the pro-European Chisinau government as a propaganda event.

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