Moldova Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita has expressed concern that Russia will invade her country next, warning that no country is safe from Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to media reports.
Natalia Gavrilita issued the warning after Moscow’s forces made gains in Ukraine’s south and east, near the Moldova-Ukraine border, in recent months, according to the Daily Mail.
According to the report, analysts believe the Kremlin is attempting to build a land bridge between Russian-occupied territory in eastern Ukraine and Transnistria, an unrecognised breakaway region supported by Russia, in order to cut Ukraine off from the Black Sea.
Transnistria governs a narrow swath of territory located primarily between the Dniester River and the Moldovan-Ukrainian border.
Following a brief military conflict in 1992, it declared independence from Moldova, but is still recognised internationally as part of the Eastern European country.
“It’s a hypothetical scenario for now, but if the military actions move further into the southwestern part of Ukraine and toward Odessa, then of course we are very worried,” Gavrilita told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday.
“We are very worried, especially considering that troops are on the territory of the secessionist Transnistria region. We are doing everything possible to maintain peace and stability and to ensure that the fighting does not escalate.”
Moldova has a population of only 2.5 million people, compared to neighbouring Ukraine, which had a population of over 40 million before the Russian invasion began on February 24.
Because of its size and population, Ukraine has been able to mount a fierce resistance against the Russian invaders, surprising many, including the Kremlin, which expected its forces to seize Kiev in a matter of days.
A country like Moldova, which is constitutionally neutral and thus not a member of NATO, would have a much more difficult time defending itself, according to the Daily Mail.