Moldovan President Maia Sandu alleged in an interview with the Financial Times published on Oct. 6 that Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin attempted a coup against her as part of a larger plot to destabilize the country.
In Feb. 2023, Sandu said that Russia was planning to overthrow the government of Moldova under the guise of seemingly organic protests that would turn violent. The plot was prevented, but the situation was "really dramatic." She now claims that Prigozhin and Wagner were directly involved in the failed coup attempt.
Sandu added that Russia has tried, and will continue to try, to interfere in Moldovan politics, stressing that Russian and Russian-affiliated forces have funneled a massive amount of money into the country ahead of upcoming local elections.
In addition to attempting to influence Moldovan elections, Russia has wielded a variety of tools against Moldova, including weaponizing energy supplies, cyber attacks, and directly threatening the country with unrest from the Russian-controlled region of Moldova, Transnistria.
Russia has long sought to pressure Moldova, but increased both its rhetoric and aggressive actions towards the country after the election of pro-Western President Maia Sandu in 2020.
In May 2023, Sandu said in an interview with FT that she thought Moldova would have been next if Russia had succeeded with its original plan to take Ukraine in three days.
“I don’t believe they would have stopped at the border,” Sandu said. “We are only safe today thanks to Ukraine.”