Moldova temporarily closed its airspace on Tuesday due to a “flying object resembling a weather balloon”, amid tensions with Russia accused of wanting to destabilize the country, and NATO member Romania, made fighters take off.
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This former Soviet republic located at the gates of Ukraine announced this decision at midday which led to the cessation of all flights. The local media then mentioned “security reasons” without further details.
In a press release published in the evening, the Directorate of Civil Aviation explained “having received a report that a small unidentified object had been detected”.
“Given the weather conditions and the inability to track and identify the object and its flight path,” the airspace was closed as a precaution. It was reopened at 2:46 p.m. (12:46 p.m.) once the danger had passed.
In the midst of mysterious flying objects shot down by the United States, neighboring Romania also detected a similar target, “presenting the characteristics of a meteorological balloon” and flying at an altitude of approximately 11,000 meters, without know if it was the same machine.
Two Romanian fighter planes under NATO command were sent to clarify the situation, but they could not “confirm the presence of the air target, neither visually nor on the on-board radars”, specified the Ministry of Defense.
This Moldovan measure comes as the small country has decided to strengthen security measures in the face of alleged plans by Moscow to overthrow the pro-European power in place in Chisinau.
“The plan includes attacks on state buildings and hostage-taking by saboteurs with a military past camouflaged in civilian clothes,” President Maia Sandu told reporters on Monday.
According to her, the Kremlin is counting on “the involvement of internal forces” such as the party of the fugitive pro-Russian oligarch Ilan Sor, but also possible Russian, Belarusian, Serbian and Montenegrin nationals.
Mentioned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Brussels last week, this information comes from documents intercepted by the Ukrainian secret services.
Maia Sandu, Moldovan President | AFP
Russia denied this on Tuesday.
The assertions of the Moldovan leader “are absolutely unfounded and without proof”, denounced the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a press release.
In this context, the authorities have decided to hold behind closed doors a football match scheduled for Thursday between a Moldovan club and a team from Belgrade. The intelligence services feared that the stands were infiltrated by troublemakers.
In this tense context, the populist party of Ilhan Shor announced the holding of anti-government demonstrations this Sunday in the Moldovan capital.
This Israeli-born businessman who became a politician in Moldova, a country he fled in 2019, was sanctioned in October 2022 by Washington for interference on behalf of Russia and corruption.
Married to a singer decorated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Shor was convicted of embezzling $1 billion from Moldovan banks in 2014.
According to the US Treasury Department, he worked with Russia to found an alliance before the 2021 elections and then tried with Moscow’s support to undermine Moldova’s efforts to join the European Union.
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