Moldova authorities fear Russia plans to seize Chisinau Airport

Russian Ministry of Defense

The recently appointed Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Recean said Russia is considering taking control of Chisinau Airport to open a new front in Ukraine, confirming a claim by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

On February 20, 2022, Zelenskyy told the German media Die Welt that the Ukrainian special services have intelligence about Moscow’s plans to seize Chisinau Airport (KIV), in Moldova’s capital city, to use as a bridgehead before opening a new front in western Ukraine. 

“Ukraine will always be ready to help Moldova,” Zelenskyy said. 

Such a plan is reminiscent of Russia’s initial offensive on Ukraine. On February 24, 2022, an air assault was launched by Russian paratroopers (VDV) on Hostomel Airport (GML), located in the vicinity of Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv, to establish a bridgehead for more troops to be flown in. Though the assault eventually failed, the battle for Hostomel control led to the destruction of the An-225 Mriya, the world’s largest aircraft. 

Recean, who assumed office on February 16, 2023, addressed Zelenskyy’s declaration, as reported by local media TV8

“I mentioned that there were and still are several scenarios of destabilization,” the Moldovan prime minister said. “They include several elements, including those mentioned by Zelenskyy, but I also mentioned that our institutions are ready to face such challenges.” 

“We have strengthened our capabilities and are prepared for various scenarios aimed at the security of the Republic of Moldova,” he added. 

On February 13, 2023, Moldovan President Maia Sandu detailed Moscow’s alleged plans to overthrow the power in place in Chisinau and announced a strengthening of security measures. 

Moldova, a neighbor under pressure 

Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the neighboring country of Moldova has seen its safety compromised in several instances.  

In the first hours of the first offensive on February 24, 2022, the Moldovan Civil Aviation Authority ordered the closure of the airspace to “avoid putting at risk civilian flights.” On February 14, 2023, Moldova once again closed its airspace briefly, citing security concerns over an unidentified flying object. 

Due to its location, the airspace of Moldova was also crossed several times by cruise missiles fired at Ukrainian cities from Russian warships in the Black Sea.  

Debris from a Russian missile intercepted by the Ukrainian air defense fell on the Moldovan village of Naslavcea on October 31, 2022.  

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