Moldova’s Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita quits as Russia’s war rages in neighbouring Ukraine

Moldova’s Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita quits as Russia’s war rages in neighbouring Ukraine
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Moldova’s government collapsed on Friday as pro-Western Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned, adding to a series of crises that have gripped the small nation since Russia invaded its neighbour Ukraine.

Ms Gavrilita told a news conference that the “time has come for me to announce my resignation” and said no one expected her government, elected in the summer of 2021, “would have to manage so many crises caused by Russian aggression in Ukraine.”

Ms Gavrilita’s premiership was marked by a long string of problems. These include an acute energy crisis after Moscow dramatically reduced supplies to Moldova, skyrocketing inflation, and a number of other troubling incidents such as missiles from the war in neighbouring Ukraine crossing its skies.

On Friday, Moldova’s Ministry of Defence said a missile was detected traversing its airspace near the border with Ukraine.

The foreign ministry said in a statement that the Russian ambassador in capital Chisinau has been summoned for talks over the “unacceptable violation”.

The ministry said that the missile was detected in its airspace at around 10am, and flew over two border villages before heading toward Ukraine.

Announcing her resignation, Ms Gravilita said: “I took over the government with an anti-corruption, pro-development and pro-European mandate at a time when corruption schemes had captured all the institutions and the oligarchs felt untouchable.

“We were immediately faced with energy blackmail, and those who did this hoped that we would give in.”

“The bet of the enemies of our country was that we would act like previous governments, who gave up energy interests, who betrayed the national interest in exchange for short-term benefits,” she added.

Her resignation comes a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed his country had intercepted plans by Russian secret services to destroy Moldova.

Speaking to European Union leaders in Brussels, Mr Zelensky said he recently told Moldovan President Maia Sandu about the alleged scheme.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu thanked Ms Gavrilita on Friday for her “enormous sacrifice and efforts to lead the country in a time of so many crises.”

“Despite unprecedented challenges, the country was governed responsibly, with great care and dedicated work,” she said. “We have stability, peace and development - where others wanted war and bankruptcy.”

Ms Sandu added that she will hold consultations with parliamentary factions and appoint a candidate for the leadership position, without stating when.

Ms Gavrilita, a 41-year-old economist, was appointed prime minister in August 2021 after her pro-Western Party of Action and Solidarity, or PAS, won a parliamentary election on a pro-EU, reformist ticket in the former Soviet republic.