FAKE NEWS: The Republic of Moldova is mobilizing a million-strong reserve army to attack Transnistria

Soldiers stand at attention during the official ceremony of receiving 'Piranha-3 H' transporters military vehicles at the Military Camp 142 in Chisinau, Moldova, 12 January 2023.
© EPA-EFE/DUMITRU DORU   |   Soldiers stand at attention during the official ceremony of receiving 'Piranha-3 H' transporters military vehicles at the Military Camp 142 in Chisinau, Moldova, 12 January 2023.

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The Republic of Moldova is mobilizing one million reservists to launch an attack on Transnistria, according to Politnavigator.net, which refers to annual military drills carried out by the Moldovan Armed Forces. The article reiterates the false narrative about ongoing preparations to launch a war against Transnistria, this time fabricating a new number: the Republic of Moldova simply can’t mobilize one million people.

NEWS: “The military exercises carried out by reservists of the Moldovan Armed Forces have come to an end today after taking place for a week. On this occasion, a few hundred people marched ineptly and reluctantly sang the national anthem, without casting an impression of military propriety.

Still, Moldova will requalify over a million reservists until September 15, during which time they are supposed to study NATO equipment and military tactics.

[…]

Moldovan opposition journalist Nikolai Kostyrkin believes the issue of drawing Moldova into NATO, and maybe even into Romania, will be solved by taking out Transnistria”.

NARRATIVES: 1. The Republic of Moldova is preparing (and is forced by the West / NATO) to attack Transnistria. 2 Bridges over Prut River are being repaired, the army is buying military equipment and one million reservists have been mobilized for a military campaign.

BACKGROUND: Russian propaganda media have in recent months amped up a media campaign about alleged preparations in the Republic of Moldova with support (or under orders) from the West / Ukraine in order to mount an attack on the separatist region of Transnistria. The scenarios and objectives of this campaign vary extensively: Moldova seeks either to open a second front against Russia (considering Transnistria doesn’t have any borders with Russia or with the current frontline) or to take control of the military depot in Cobsana and transfer the ammunition stored here to Ukraine, although this is obsolete, Soviet-era ammo which many military experts claim to be unusable.

A variation of this scenario is the Republic of Moldova’s NATO accession. Any expression of support for the Republic of Moldova coming from officials or leaders of NATO member states and each meeting or joint military drill (taking place on a periodic basis for years) are described as arguments in favor of Moldova preparing to join the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization.

PURPOSE: To depict the Republic of Moldova as a belligerent state, a threat to the security of Russia and Russian citizens (in Transnistria), as well as to justify possible sanctions / pressure / attacks from Russia targeting Moldova. To uplift anti-NATO sentiment, dating back to the Soviet era and fueled by Russian propaganda on both banks of the Dniester.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: A military neutral country under its Constitution, the Republic of Moldova can modify this status only by amending the Constitution, a lengthy procedure that can only be accomplished by referendum or if two thirds of MPs vote in favor of a legislative initiative in this respect. For the time being, none of these conditions have been met. All surveys show that the majority of Moldova’s population opposes NATO accession, whereas there is no fully-fledged majority in Parliament that can amend the supreme law. On April 10, president Maia Sandu once again pointed out, during a show broadcast by Pro TV Chișinău, that Moldova’s NATO accession can only be achieved in the wake of a referendum.

Meanwhile, Chișinău has dismissed any scenario referring to an attack on the region of Transnistria and continues to call for identifying a peaceful resolution to this conflict.

The article misinterprets and exaggerates the military exercises carried out by Moldovan reservists. In truth, the Ministry of Defense did announce upcoming exercises, although Ministry officials have warned that such exercises take place every year. The exercise was held over the course of five days, not a week as the article claims.

With respect to the million reservists who “are supposed to study NATO equipment and military tactics”, this is a gross overstatement. With a population of 2.6 million people, it is impossible for the Republic of Moldova to have a million-strong reserve army. Besides, military exercises usually call up people who have completed military service or have graduated the military academy, the total of whom amounts to a few thousand people every year. For instance, in the first half of 2023 (when the Russian propaganda claims the Republic of Moldova is preparing for war), a maximum of 1,500 new conscripts are scheduled to be drafted. The Republic of Moldova does not have the logistics base required to train one million reservists in four stages, namely training, accommodation and transport for 250,000 people at a time. Although Politnavigator.net speaks of one million reservists, at the start of the article the author says a few hundred people took part in the exercise. 

The author of the article also disregards the fact that Moldova, a neutral country under its Constitution, has one of the smallest, most underequipped and underfunded armies in the world, despite the existence of a frozen conflict on its territory, the fact that Russian military troops are stationed here without its consent or that separatist military forces threaten its security. All these aspects make it highly unlikely for Moldova to be able to launch a war or to be allowed to join NATO for that matter.

Chișinău and Bucharest have been discussing for years about the need to repair existing bridges and building new ones, so the Moldovan Government’s decision to launch negotiations with Bucharest over a project meant to modernize three bridges (which is what the Russian publication probably referred to) is actually a bureaucratic procedure launched a long time ago.

The Ministries of Defense of the Republic of Moldova and Romania have repeatedly denied fake news about Romanian military equipment allegedly crossing the border. If the article refers to recent events, it could have mistaken the movement of Moldovan military equipment, which the Moldovan Ministry of Defense warned its citizens about well in advance.

Moldovan servicemen have been taking part in JCET exercises starting 2009, therefore this year’s exercise can hardly be described as an exceptional action, tied to Moldova’s alleged NATO accession.

GRAIN OF TRUTH: In the context of growing security risks caused by the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova has been making efforts to boost its defense capabilities, including by means of financial support from its Western partners.

  • Publication / Media:
    politnavigator.net
  • Date of publication:
    07/04/2023
  • Target audience:
    The population of Transnistria, national minorities, supporters of Moldova’s neutrality
  • Amplification:
    trmzk.ru
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin
  • Key narrative:
    The Republic of Moldova is preparing an attack on Transnistria

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