Blinken pledges US support for Moldova amid rising Russian threats

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Moldova, pledging $135 million to enhance energy security and counter Russian disinformation during his visit to Chisinau.

During Wednesday’s visit, Blinken announced that up to $85 million in USAID funding will subsidize equipment to strengthen Moldova’s national power grid and facilitate greater electricity trade with Romania, Ukraine, and the broader European market. He also unveiled additional aid for Moldova, a pro-Western country facing renewed threats from Russia.

“Today, I’m announcing that we’ll be working with our Congress to provide an additional $50 million to further advance these efforts from reforming the energy and agricultural sectors to pushing back and further against disinformation,” said Blinken during a joint press conference with Moldova President Maia Sandu.

“That in turn will bolster the ability of Moldova to resist Russian interference, to hold free and fair elections to continue down the path to the European Union and Western integration to create more economic opportunity,” he said.

Blinken’s trip comes amid concerns over Russia’s military presence in Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region. Moldova has accused Russia of waging a hybrid war through election interference and disinformation campaigns aimed at toppling the government and hindering its EU aspirations. Russia denies these accusations.

Sandu welcomed Blinken’s second visit in two years as “a strong sign of support.”

“Through unity and with the support of our partners, we will stand by our people and move forward,” Sandu said during the press conference.

She also expressed gratitude for U.S. support to both Moldova and Ukraine. Since Russia’s 2022 invasion, the Biden administration has directed billions of dollars in weapons assistance to Ukraine, which Sandu said “also makes Moldova safer and more resilient.”

Historically, Moldova’s heavy reliance on outside energy resources has made the country vulnerable to external disruptions and price fluctuations, delaying its progress toward sustainable economic development. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has further exacerbated Moldova’s energy challenges by driving up electricity and gas prices and creating sector instability.

Since Russia’s 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the United States has provided Moldova with $774 million in assistance, including $300 million through USAID, to support energy security.

NATO, Ukraine

After Chisinau, Blinken is heading to Prague for NATO foreign ministers’ meetings, where “a substantial show of support for Ukraine” is expected, according to U.S. officials.

On Wednesday, Blinken said the U.S. is working hard to deliver more air defenses to Ukraine as it defends itself against intensifying Russian attacks.

But Blinken, along with other officials from the Biden administration, said Washington does not encourage or enable the use of U.S.-supplied weapons to strike inside Russia.

“Ukraine has to make its own decisions about the best way to effectively defend itself,” Blinken said. ”We’re going to make sure that it has the equipment it needs.”

This week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged the alliance’s members to lift some of the restrictions on Ukraine’s use of Western weapons, potentially enabling their use for strikes directly on Russian soil.

“The right to self-defense includes hitting legitimate targets outside Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said Monday at a NATO meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The United States will host a NATO summit in Washington from July 9 to July 11.

Blinken said there will be “very strong deliverables” in terms of Ukraine’s further integration with the Atlantic alliance.

Thirty-two countries have either completed or will soon complete bilateral security agreements with Ukraine.

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