The United States on Friday accused Russia of trying to destabilize the ex-Soviet republic of Moldova, including through the use of street protests, with the goal of eventually bringing in a pro-Moscow government.
"We believe Russia is pursuing options to weaken the Moldovan government, probably with the eventual goal of seeing a more Russia-friendly administration," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
Moldova's government is seeking closer ties to Western institutions and is close to the pro-Western government of neighboring Ukraine, which has been battling a Russian invasion for more than a year.
A slice of Moldovan territory, Transnistria, is controlled by Russian-backed separatists and Washington believes Moscow is seeking to stir wider instability.
"Russian actors, some with current ties to Russian intelligence, are seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government," Kirby said.
The US official said "we are confident in Moldova's democratic and economic institutions and their ability to respond to these threats and, of course, we will continue to provide robust support."
Kirby said the United States is stepping up sharing of information on Russian activities in the country with Moldova so "they can further investigate, support and disrupt Russian plans."
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