Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita announced Friday she and her government were resigning after 18 months, as Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine stifled her efforts to initiate reforms aimed at joining the European Union.
At a news conference Friday in the capital of Chisinau, Gavrilita, who was appointed by President Maia Sandu in August 2021, lamented that she took over the government with an anti-corruption, pro-development and pro-EU agenda, but no one expected the nation to be facing so many crises.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago, Moldova – a former Soviet republic country of 2.5 million – saw Ukrainian refugees flood across the border, and Russia cut off its energy supplies, which helped drive inflation to nearly 30 percent.
The Ukraine war has spilled across the border as well, with Moldova suffering power cuts as the result of attacks on Ukraine’s power grid. And in a video message Friday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said a Russian missile targeting his nation passed through Moldovan airspace.
Friday’s events come one day after Zelenskyy told European Union leaders in Brussels his country had intercepted a detailed Russian plan to destroy Moldova politically, by breaking down the democratic order and establishing control, as it has attempted to do in Ukraine. He said he informed President Sandu of the plans immediately.
Speaking with VOA on Friday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby could not confirm Zelenskyy’s claims.
On her Facebook page, Sandu acknowledged she had accepted Gavrilita’s resignation and thanked her for her “enormous sacrifice and efforts to lead the country in a time of so many crises.”
She said under Gavrilita, “the country was governed responsibly, with a lot of attention and dedicated work. We have stability, peace and development — where others wanted war and bankruptcy.”
A short time later, Sandu nominated 48-year-old presidential aide and former interior minister Dorin Recean to be the next prime minister. He must now be approved by Moldova’s 101-seat parliament.