Former Moldovan intelligence chief: Danilov’s appointment as ambassador to Moldova is not accidental

Moldova has a historic chance to recover its districts situated on the left bank of the Nistru, where Russia installed a puppet regime by force of arms. “All the great powers, the U.S., the UK, France, would support us,” Alexandru Balan, former deputy director of Moldova’s Security and Intelligence Service (SIS), stated in an interview with the Ukrainian source Glavkom.

The appointment of Oleksiy Danilov, who headed Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, as ambassador to Moldova is suggestive in this context and indicates a change in Kiev’s attitude to the potential risks that can increase if Russia strengthens its positions in Moldova. Tensions are rising, in particular, due to the activation of the fifth column, which recently presented itself as the “opposition” in Moscow, with the intention of contending in the presidential election that is due to take place in November-December 2024, said Alexandru Balan.

Since the outbreak of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Moldova has also been subjected to active hybrid attacks from the Kremlin, aimed at overthrowing the current government and undermining the country’s European integration. Under the given conditions, Gagauzia is an important element in Russia’s game, which will seek to deepen divisions and provoke an even greater crisis by using, in particular, Comrat, where “the Ilan Shor phenomenon and associated risks” gained ground, said Glavkom. “During my tenure at the Security and Intelligence Service, I actively used the institution’s resources to counter all kinds of activities coming from Transnistria and Gagauzia. But the SIS’s activities in this direction were stopped when the next government was appointed,” recalls the security expert.

Among the current improvement actions on behalf of Chisinau, Alexandru Balan mentioned the fact that in June 2023, the Constitutional Court of Moldova ruled that the activities of the Shor Party undermined the country’s sovereignty and declared it unconstitutional. But no end in sight. The criminal fugitive Shor, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison and who hid in Israel, but also lives in Moscow, leads another clone-project – “Chance”. Under these circumstances, the intelligence services “behave too neutrally with regard to the risks that could have been identified many years ago and prevented from developing in this direction,” considers the ex-official.

Among the causes for the institution’s inefficiency, Alexandru Balan named communication problems, both at the level of institutions and with the public. “The SIS should inform the President and Speaker of Parliament about the situation and trends. And we see that Serebrian (Oleg Serebrian, current Deputy Prime Minister for Moldova’s Reintegration), the Minister of Internal Affairs and other officials make statements that contradict each other. How can this happen?! This means that the SIS has problems with information and communication. At such an extraordinary time, it is impossible for the SIS to sleep. And they have to cooperate with the intelligence services of Ukraine,” said the interviewee.

Otherwise, a bizarre situation arises when the Intelligence Service of Ukraine announced the search for the so-called head of the “MFA of Transnistria” Valeri Ignatiev, while the Moldovan intelligence services remained impassive? “On behalf of Moldova, there is political juggling in different directions. In fact, however, we have to decide whether we go to Europe, remain a ‘neutral’ country or join the Eurasian Union."

The security expert warns that his former colleague from the SIS Alexandru Esaulenco was appointed ambassador to Baku during the period when Azerbaijan restored its territorial integrity and control over Karabakh. “Mr. Esaulenco should take a map of Azerbaijan and urgently run to Mrs. Sandu with proposals.” He doesn’t assert that Karabakh’s experience could be applied to solving the Transnistrian problem, but “at least, this experience should be analyzed and options for possible solutions should be offered... We have a historic opportunity. All the great powers, the U.S., Great Britain, France, would support us,” he suggests.

He said that the leadership of the Republic of Moldova should also promote, along with the European integration, the strategic movement towards NATO. “We face great risks of losing the pro-European course – the presidential election follows, then parliamentary elections will take place and the local election campaign clearly showed that the current government is losing the support of the electorate,” the expert believes.

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