The Kremlin is attempting to interfere in the Moldovan presidential election and referendum on European Union membership later this year, a joint statement from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada has warned.

In a statement issued ahead of the G7 summit in Italy, the allies accused Russia of using “disinformation, criminal and covert activities, and corruption to undermine sovereignty and democratic processes” and said they were “united in confronting Russia’s aggression and subversion against democratic societies.”

The statement stresses that the allies have “full confidence in Moldova’s ability to manage these threats linked to the Kremlin’s interference,” and are making the statement “in defense of our shared democratic values.”

According to the allies, Moscow is providing support to its preferred candidates in October’s election and agitating against the incumbent President Maia Sandu, with the intention of inciting protests should a pro-Russia candidate not win.

Moldova — a landlocked country in the Balkans, bordering Romania and Ukraine — was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 as part of Russia’s pact with Nazi Germany partitioning central and eastern Europe.

Since being elected in 2020, President Sandu has pursued membership of the European Union and attempted to tackle corruption. Efforts are ongoing to address interference supported by the pro-Russian oligarch Ilan Shor who was convicted of defrauding Moldovan banks of around $1 billion, equivalent to about 12% of the country’s GDP, before fleeing the country.

The fugitive currently resides in Russia. According to the allies’ statement, “personnel of state-funded media outlet RT have been involved in providing direct support” to Shor, who has been sanctioned by all three of their governments,“for several years with Russian government assent.”

During her premiership Sandu has been challenged by a Russian-sponsored coup attempt and an ongoing conflict in the Russian-controlled breakaway region of Transnistria. The president has issued warnings about Moscow’s interference in her country and repeatedly asked for Western help to tackle it.

In the joint statement, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada said: “We share President Sandu’s strong concerns about the Kremlin’s use of criminal groups to finance political activities and undermine Moldova’s democratic institutions.

“We commend Moldova’s leaders for continuing to capably manage these threats, build resilience, and maintain peace and security, while driving forward democratic reforms and reviving the country’s economy,” the statement added.

“We will continue to support Moldova and the Moldovan people as they manage Kremlin interference and the impacts of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine. We strongly support Moldova’s democratic, economic, security, and anti-corruption reforms,” stated the allies.

“By revealing the Kremlin’s plot, we are making it clear to Moscow that we stand for free and fair elections and will not tolerate its attempts to meddle and undermine democratic processes. We urge the Kremlin to abandon these efforts to subvert Moldova’s democracy and to respect its sovereignty and the outcomes of free, fair, and independent elections.”

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