IN FOCUS: Ukraine & Moldova Brief

Review of May 2024

Petra Bošková, Lýdia Chobotová,  Sára Gregová, Katarína Žiaranová



Denmark, France, Germany and the US allow Ukraine to use their weapon inside Russia

Ukraine asked its Western allies to use their weapons inside Russia to counter the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region. To show their support, Denmark, France, and Germany, on May 30, allowed Ukraine to do so, with the US joining them shortly after. These decisions are a reversal of previous decisions on the usage of Western weapons inside Russia, marking a significant shift in Western policy.

Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, was one of the first Western leaders to push for a greenlight to Kyiv to strike military bases inside Russia with long-range weapons provided by Western partners after Zelenskyy repeatedly asked for permission to use Western weapons to target military sites inside Russia. France and Germany were the first countries to give such permission, claiming that international law permits such an approach. France stressed their weapons must only be used to neutralize military targets, from which Russia launched an attack on Ukraine.

Soon after, Denmark joined France and Germany, granting Ukraine to use their weapons on Russian soil, including Danish F-16 jets. Surprisingly, several reports came out claiming permission was also granted by the US. President Biden has allegedly allowed Ukraine to use US-provided weapons, such as anti-aircraft weapons and rocket launchers, to shoot down launched Russian missiles heading toward Kharkiv, at troops massing just over the Russian border near the city, or Russian bombers launching bombs toward Ukrainian territory. However, Ukraine must not target civilian infrastructure or launch long-range missiles to hit military targets deep inside Russia with US weapons.

These permissions mean a significant shift in Western policy, as previously, they were against Ukrainian use of Western weapons inside Russia, fearing an escalation of the conflict outside Ukraine. Putin, however, still warns involvement of Western countries in the conflict would trigger “a global conflict” and threaten “small European countries that they should be fully aware of what is at stake”.

Zelenskyy’s Resilience is a leading force in Ukraine Through Turmoil

Five years have passed since May 20, 2019, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was sworn in at the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament in Kyiv. Zelenskyy was elected with 73.2% of the vote by Ukrainians dreaming of change, enticed by his many promises to negotiate an end to the war in the Donbas, end corruption, improve pensions, and raise wages.

During his term, Zelenskyy turned into a war leader. His term of office would have expired at the end of May in peacetime, given present conditions, the president is expected to remain in office for as long as the war lasts, as the constitution precludes elections from being held under martial law.

Despite the upheaval, Zelenskyy retains significant trust from Ukrainians. Following the invasion, his approval ratings soared to 90%, and even today, around 65% of Ukrainians trust him to guide the nation through these tumultuous times. This support is driven by a desire for stability and unity. Moscow questions his legitimacy, attempting to portray Ukraine as undemocratic, but these narratives hold little sway within Ukraine.

The prospect of keeping the same president for the entire duration of the war, debated in the country since the winter of 2023, is generally accepted by a population worried about an election that could be divisive for the country. According to various polling organizations, most Ukrainians consider it impossible to hold an election because of the state of war, while several hundred thousand are serving in the army and millions more are refugees elsewhere in the world.

Conducting an election during wartime presents immense challenges. With Russia occupying a fifth of Ukrainian territory, millions displaced, and soldiers on the front lines, logistical issues abound. Ukrainian author Andriy Kurkov highlights Zelenskyy’s difficult transition from comedian to wartime leader, noting the gravity of his role. Zelenskyy’s transformation is stark. Footage from his inauguration shows a fresh-faced, enthusiastic leader, a contrast to his current weary appearance. Kurkov describes him as a “very tired James Bond,” reflecting the immense pressures he faces.

Ukraine’s political scene has also evolved. Valeriy Zaluzhny, once seen as a potential rival, has receded from the political spotlight after he was appointed ambassador to the UK. Former allies like Oleksandr Danyluk, who initially supported Zelenskyy, have since diverged due to differing views on handling Russian aggression. Danyluk now criticizes the early years of Zelenskyy’s presidency for inadequate war preparedness but concedes that Zelenskyy has excelled in garnering international support for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy’s call for unity remains a rallying cry for most Ukrainians. Last year, he deemed discussions about elections “irresponsible,” emphasizing the need for national cohesion. This sentiment resonates widely as the nation focuses on survival and eventual victory.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s presidency continues to be a beacon of hope for many Ukrainians. His leadership during one of the most challenging periods in Ukraine’s history underscores the complex interplay of politics, war, and national unity. As the conflict endures, Zelenskyy’s role as a stabilizing force remains crucial to Ukraine’s future.

The effects of the war on Ukrainian farmers

The last Ukrainian Agriculture report, which was conducted on May 29, showed the obstacles facing small-scale Ukrainian farmers because of the war in Ukraine.

Most of the farmers highlighted a lack of labour that limits production (71,4% of respondents of poultry, 75% of the dairy sector, and 87,5% in the fruit and vegetable).

Almost a third of respondents are also open to hiring people with disabilities or veterans (the problem with hiring this workforce is that the agricultural equipment typically lacks the necessary accessibility modifications). Investments to adapt agricultural equipment for use by persons with disabilities could mitigate these shortages and lower unemployment among this part of the population.

As a significant number of people left the country, interviewed farmers feel decreasing domestic demand (especially in the dairy, honey, and fruit sectors). Due to the importance of the grain sector, international attention has focused on it.

The destruction of infrastructure or unreliable electricity is another challenging factor for production in the war.

A significant limit for agriculture is also the fact that according to Ukrainian authorities, 174,000 km2, representing about a third of the country, requires mine clearance. Farmers often bear the economic and security costs of demining their fields.

A specific case is the beekeeping industry. While honey sales have decreased, the war has increased demand for beeswax, now the top-selling beekeeping product, used to produce trench candles for soldiers.

According to the authors of the report – the humanitarian charity Mercy Corpsprovides a clear picture of the agricultural situation in Ukraine beyond large-scale grain production. Although the organization admitted that the number of respondents, 67, “is not sufficient” to be a representative sample of the population.

  •  Euractiv. 2024. Labour shortage, landmines plague Ukraine’s family farms, warns report.
  • Mercy Corps. 2024. Farmers in Wartime: Promoting Adaptability and Resilience for Agriculture in Ukraine.



US Secretary of State pledges €124 million in aid to Moldova 

The US Secretary of State Blinken, during his visit to Moldova on May 29, announced a €124 million aid package for Moldova to bolster energy security and resilience against Russian disinformation. The visit is an affirmation of the US commitment to Moldova´s sovereignty and success.

Blinken, on a short trip around Eastern Europe, stopped in Moldova to meet with top Moldovan leaders and announced a new €124 million aid package for Moldova. Previously, in 2022, the US provided Moldova with €716 million to deal with the outcomes of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Now, the €78 million of the aid package will be directed at bolstering energy infrastructure and energy security, allowing for greater electricity trade with Romania and Ukraine, and €46 million will be used to deter Russian disinformation. Blinken expressed the aid “will bolster the ability of Moldovans to resist Russian interference, to hold free and fair elections, to continue down the path to the European Union and Western integration”. Moreover, the modernization of the energy infrastructure is set to help Moldova diversify its energy suppliers and thus be less dependent on the Russian supply of energy.

Moldovan President  Maia Sandu welcomed and thanked for the US support, citing long-lasting US-Moldova friendship, and highlighted the US support for Moldova´s undergoing institutional reform aimed at combatting corruption. However, the aid package must be first approved by the US Congress and the President.

Interpol and FBI Uncover Plot to Sabotage Red Notice System in Moldova

In a major international crackdown, Interpol and the FBI have disrupted a sophisticated scheme in Moldova aimed at undermining Interpol’s Red Notice system. Officials announced that four individuals have been detained in connection with the plot, revealing a significant breach of global law enforcement protocols.

The operation, which involved extensive collaboration with French and British authorities, exposed an international criminal organization with suspected ties to individuals in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Moldova’s anticorruption chief, Veronica Dragalin, provided details of the intricate operation during a press briefing.

“The suspects paid intermediaries and public figures in Moldova to inform wanted criminals of their Red Notice status,” Dragalin explained. The Red Notice system is crucial for international law enforcement, flagging individuals deemed fugitives for authorities worldwide. This system’s integrity is vital for maintaining global security and justice.

According to Dragalin, the criminal organization aimed to help individuals subject to Red Notices obtain asylum or refugee status in Moldova and other countries. By bribing public officials, they sought to block and delete the Red Notices, allowing fugitives to evade capture and continue their activities without interference.

“The investigation led to the detention of four people for 72 hours on suspicion of interfering with the Red Notices,” Dragalin stated. These individuals are currently being questioned, and authorities are gathering more evidence to build a comprehensive case against the network.

The scheme represents a significant threat to international law enforcement efforts. Red Notices are a vital tool used by Interpol to alert member countries about individuals wanted for serious crimes. Interference with this system undermines not only individual cases but also the broader framework of international police cooperation.

This operation highlights the importance of international cooperation in combating sophisticated criminal networks that operate across borders. By targeting the Red Notice system, these criminals aimed to weaken a critical tool that helps maintain global security and justice. The successful disruption of this plot underscores the effectiveness of coordinated international law enforcement efforts.

The involvement of cybercrime elements in this plot points to the growing intersection between traditional criminal activities and digital operations. The criminals used advanced techniques to manipulate the Red Notice system, indicating a high level of sophistication and resources. This aspect of the operation underscores the need for continuous advancements in cybersecurity measures within law enforcement agencies globally.

The detention of the four individuals marks the beginning of what promises to be an extensive investigation. Authorities are expected to continue probing the network to uncover the full extent of its operations and connections. Further arrests and legal actions are anticipated as more information comes to light.

The disruption of this plot to sabotage Interpol’s Red Notice system is a significant victory for international law enforcement. It serves as a stern warning to criminal organizations that attempts to undermine global justice mechanisms will be met with decisive and coordinated action. As the investigation progresses, the international community remains vigilant in its efforts to protect and uphold the integrity of global law enforcement systems.

The successful operation not only reaffirms the commitment of Interpol and its partner agencies to combat international crime but also highlights the critical importance of global cooperation in addressing and neutralizing threats that transcend national borders

“Pact for Europe” – a pro-Europe pact signed in Moldova

Political parties in Moldova clinched a „Pact for Europe“ on May 26. The Pact for Europe is an agreement on the European Integration of the Republic of Moldova. The twelve parties decided to sign this agreement, committing them to act in favour of EU membership for Moldova as the campaign for an October referendum on European integration heats up. The Pact should remain open for those who would like to join and sign the initiative.

However, every party doesn´t support the current pro-European president, Maia Sandu. Some of them intend to put up a joint candidate to run against her. Presidential elections are held on October 20, 2024. A referendum on European Union membership will also be held on this day. That was voted in parliament on May 16. Moldovans will be asked if they are for or against European integration to join the 27-member EU.

If the vote passes and the turnout exceeds 33%, an addendum to the constitution will declare EU integration “the strategic goal of the Republic of Moldova”, and a separate section on the process will be added.

Sandu and pro-European forces are against a group of disparate pro-Russian parties which are already holding rallies with the slogan “No to the EU”.

The initiators of the Pact were the “Together” (“Impreuna”) bloc – the political formation of four parties (“Dignity and Truth” (DA), the Coalition for Unity and Prosperity (CUB), the socio-political movement “League of Cities and Communities” (LOC), and the Party of Change).

“From today, we have the same name. The political bloc “Together” guarantees Moldova’s European path, we want to neutralize the political risks we face and unite the society,” the Party of Change leader said after the meeting.

These unified parties accuse Sandu of “privatizing” European integration by relying solely on her PAS party. Sandu and her Party of Action and Solidarity signed the Pact.


  • Euractiv. 2024. Twelve Moldovan parties clinch pro-Europe pact, but not all back president.

  • Euractiv. 2024. Moldova to hold EU referendum, presidential election on 20 October.


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