Moldovan Defense Minister Confirms Chisinau Has Asked West For Air-Defense Systems
By RFE/RL's Moldovan Service January 24, 2023
Defense Minister Anatolie Nosatii has confirmed that Moldova has asked its Western partners for air-defense systems, in a move that signals a departure from the country's policy of not seeking to purchase lethal weapons from the West.
Nosatii -- who attended the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in Ramstein, Germany, last week -- acknowledged in an interview with RFE/RL that the chances of receiving such defensive armaments are slim at the moment when the top priority of Western allies remains delivering weapons to Ukraine.
"It is not as easy as a country to say, I want this and I want that, and hope that somebody will give it to you," Nosatii said, adding that discussions with Western countries on the issue are "ongoing."
Moldova's position on requesting Western weapons has changed following several incidents at its border with Ukraine, where Russian rockets shot down by Ukraine fell on Moldovan territory.
Russian missiles launched from the Black Sea to hit targets in Western Ukraine also fly often over the northeastern part of Moldova.
Currently the country lacks air-defense monitoring systems.
"The war in Ukraine has shown that Moldova's neutrality status and the discussions about Moldova's demilitarization are no longer current," Nosatii said.
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly warned that Moldova's separatist Transdniester region, which broke away in 1990, could be used as a staging area for Russian operations against Ukraine or Moldova, which also shares a border and a common history with NATO member Romania.
Transdniester is a sliver of territory that borders Ukraine where hundreds of Russian troops remain deployed since before the fall of communism despite Chisinau's objections.
"The illegal presence of Russian troops in Transdniester clearly demonstrates that the 'neutrality' narrative was imposed on us," Nosatii said.
"Moldova's leadership has repeatedly called for the withdrawal of these troops, but they are still here, which proves that our 'neutrality' is only declarative."
Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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