We must prepare for new wave of migrants – Moldovan minister in Vilnius

  • 2022-12-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Moldova and other Eastern European countries need to be ready for a new wave of Ukrainian refugees as Russia' continues to attack Ukraine's energy and civilian infrastructure, Moldova's Interior Minister Ana Revenco said in Vilnius on Thursday.

Moldova has learnt to react quickly and to rely on friends, like Lithuania, ever since hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to Moldova in the wake of the war, Revenco said.

"Now, as winter is already here, houses, as the temperatures go lower, and the attacks on the energy infrastructure is increasing in tension, it could indeed generate a new wave of refugees, force people to leave their houses. We must stay prepared, we understand that. The situation remains quite volatile. What we have learned since February 24 is to react, rely on friends, such as Lithuania," the Moldovan minister told BNS after meeting with the Lithuanian counterpart Agne Bilotaite.

According to Revenco, Russia is using hybrid tools in its fight, including "using migration also as a tool, as a weapon".

Moldova is the first country on the refugee front and it has dealt with a major influx of migrants because of the war in Ukraine, Bilotaite said. Nearly 650,000 Ukrainians initially fled to Moldova, and around 80,000 people remain there today. Lithuania, for its part, has received some 72,000 people from Ukraine.

"Lithuania was the first country to offer to help Moldova take in up to 2,000 Ukrainians, and around 250 Ukrainians from Moldova have arrived," the minister told BNS. 

Cold weather may force Ukrainians to leave their country, and Lithuania is ready to take in an additional 20,000 to 30,000 Ukrainians, Bilotaite said.

During their meeting, the two ministers discussed the regional situation, security issues and shared their experiences in coping with the challenges of war.

Last fall, Moldova faced several Russian-induced hybrid attacks, including several power cuts across the country due to Russian missile strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, as well as mobile phone outages. There have also been false reports of bombs in courts, schools and institutions, organized pro-Russian protests in Chisinau, as well as cyber attacks against government institutions and representatives.