No risk of war in Moldova while Ukraine holds out - President Sandu

FILE PHOTO: Moldovan President Maia Sandu meets Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou in Chisinau

By Alexander Tanas

CHISINAU (Reuters) - President Maia Sandu said on Friday she saw no danger of war in Moldova while Russia is fighting in Ukraine, despite what she said were Russian efforts to destabilise her country.

Issuing a rallying cry during a speech to parliament, Sandu hailed Ukraine for holding out against Russia since Moscow invaded over a year ago, and urged Moldovans to unite behind the former Soviet republic's bid to join the European Union.

"There is no danger of war coming to Moldova while Ukraine is fighting," Sandu told parliament.

"I want to reassure our citizens that Moldova is not now in any danger of war. The Russian army cannot get here while Ukraine holds out - and (thus) protects Moldova. We are grateful to Ukrainians for their bravery and love of freedom."

Moldova, a small country of 2.6 million people wedged between Ukraine and Romania, faces numerous problems - including an energy crisis, rising poverty and social tensions - that have been aggravated by Russia's war in Ukraine.

Sandu repeated accusations, denied by Moscow, that Russia wants to destabilise Moldova.

She said Russia, which has troops based in Moldova's breakaway Transdniestria region, would continue trying to destabilise her country "from within" and praised law enforcement agencies for blocking attempts to sow chaos.

In recent weeks, Moldovan authorities have arrested several alleged pro-Russian activists who they said were trying to enter the country. There have also been several protests organised by a pro-Russian party in the capital, Chisinau.

"As long as I am president, Moldova will hold out," said Sandu, who became president in 2020.

"In 2030 Moldova should become a member of the European Union," she said. "I urge all political forces to put EU accession above all interests and to support this movement unconditionally."

(Reporting by Alexander Tanas, Writing by Olena Harmash, Editing by Timothy Heritage)