Biden affirms Moldovan sovereignty after Russian coup plot allegation

By Nandita Bose and Trevor Hunnicutt

WARSAW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden affirmed support for Moldova's sovereignty in a meeting with the country's president on Tuesday, the White House said, days after Chisinau said it foiled a Russian coup attempt.

Biden, in Warsaw on a trip marking the nearly first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, worked to reassure other Eastern European countries worried about maintaining their independence.

"President Biden reaffirmed strong U.S. support for Moldova's sovereignty and territorial integrity," in his meeting with Moldovan President Maia Sandu, the White House said in a statement.

"He highlighted ongoing U.S. assistance to help Moldova strengthen its political and economic resilience, including its democratic reform agenda and energy security, and to address the effects of Russia's war against Ukraine."

Sandu said earlier this month the country had intelligence which suggested Russia was plotting a coup to "overthrow" the Moldovan authorities and sow chaos in the small former Soviet republic.

Moldova's parliament last week approved a new pro-Western government after the previous administration resigned en masse following months of political and economic scandals.

The new government, led by Prime Minister Dorin Recean, has vowed to pursue a pro-European path and also called for the demilitarisation of the Transdniestria region - a Moscow-backed separatist region which borders Ukraine.

The Kremlin has denied the coup-plotting claims, said that it is acting "responsibly" with regard to peacekeeping forces it has stationed in the breakaway region and warned Moldova against inflaming the situation further.

Moscow has bristled at the possibility of Moldova - which is sandwiched between Ukraine and NATO member Romania - joining the European Union.

The tensions come at a new apex of tensions between Washington and Moscow. Biden is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with leaders from Poland, Romania and other "Bucharest Nine" countries on NATO's eastern flank. Moldova is not a member of the security alliance.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Warsaw and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell)