IN FOCUS: Ukraine & Moldova Brief

Review of June 2024

Petra Bošková, Chiara Mihalčatinová, Lýdia Chobotová


 Photo: Official website of the President of Ukraine. 

Peace Summit in Switzerland

On June 15 – 16, Switzerland organised a Summit on Peace in Ukraine at the Bürgenstock resort, hosted by the Swiss president Viola Amherd. The summit was attended by representatives from 92 countries and eight international organisations, except Russia.

The Swiss government invited 160 countries, excluding Russia, while China was among the 68 countries that declined. The most significant outcome of the Swiss summit was a declaration supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine, signed by over 80 countries. Surprisingly, this included Hungary, which typically supported pro-Russian narratives, and Israel, which had maintained a neutral stance but became more critical of Russia after Russia’s clear support for Hamas following the October 7 terrorist attacks. Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and India rejected the signing of the statement, as did Morocco, which came as a surprise considering that Morocco was the first Arab country to provide Ukraine with direct military aid.

The agreement reiterated the signatories’ commitment to „refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, the principles of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine, within their internationally recognised borders.“ US Vice President Kamala Harris was also present and used the occasion to announce a $1.5 billion aid package to help Kyiv rebuild its damaged infrastructure and cover humanitarian costs.

The signatories have also concluded several other agreements. For instance, Ukrainian nuclear power plants and installations, including the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, must operate safely and securely under full sovereign control of Ukraine, and all deported and unlawfully displaced Ukrainian children must be returned to their home country. The Ukrainian president, Zelensky, said he is ready to “start negotiations even tomorrow” if Russia “withdraws from our territory.” Meanwhile, the goal is to work at the next summit “to end this war, for a just and lasting peace.”


EU approved the use of frozen Russian assets for weapon purchase for Ukraine

On June 24, the EU27 agreed to use profits from frozen Russian assets, amounting to 1.4 € billion, to buy weapons and ammunition for Ukraine. To pass this decision, the EU had to find a legal loophole to bypass Hungary´s veto, leading to criticism by Hungary.

The EU foreign ministers passed this decision during the Council´s June session in Luxembourg, with no country opposing the decision. The vote did not have to be unanimous, therefore, the opposition of Hungary did not cause any trouble after a legal loophole had been found. The EU High Representative, Borell, argued that because of Hungary´s previous abstention from an earlier agreement to set aside the proceeds from Russia’s frozen assets, it did not have to be part of this current vote, or rather, could not use its veto power to block the decision.

This situation led to Hungarian criticism, claiming an unprecedented “shameless breach of common European rules” and the possibility of finding a legal way “to seek justice for Hungary”. However, some diplomats argue Hungary may block the EU sanctions under which Russian assets are blocked, as these sanctions need to be renewed unanimously every six months by the bloc.

The 1.4 billion EUR sums will be channelled through the Ukrainian Assistance Fund, and the first payments should arrive in July, with bi-annual payments. Around 90 per cent of the money will go to purchase military equipment, like ammunition and air defence systems, with the rest assigned to humanitarian aid.

Orban Advocates for Ceasefire During Kyiv Visit

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on July 2, soon after assuming the role of rotating president of the European Union. During his visit to Kyiv, Orban suggested that a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine could facilitate quicker negotiations to end the ongoing conflict, which began with Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022.

Orban, known for his critical stance on Western support for Ukraine and his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has not visited Ukraine in 12 years despite multiple meetings with Putin during that period.

In a joint appearance with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the body language between the two leaders was notably cold, and they did not take questions from the media after making their statements.

Orban had previously delayed approval of a 50 billion EUR of EU’s aid package intended to support Ukraine’s defence against Russia. However, his current position as head of the European Council gives him significant influence over European affairs. On his second day in this role, he visited Ukraine to address past disagreements and focus on future cooperation.

Zelenskyy emphasised the importance of sustained European support for Ukraine, highlighting the need for meaningful and mutually beneficial cooperation among European neighbours. Orban, on the other hand, reiterated the importance of collaboration and proposed a ceasefire as a means to accelerate peace negotiations with Russia.

“I asked the president to consider whether a quick ceasefire could expedite peace talks… I appreciate his candid dialogue and responses,” Orban stated. He also remarked, “My first visit is here because the issue of peace is critical not only for Ukraine but for the whole of Europe. This war significantly affects European security.”

Zelenskyy did not publicly respond to Orban’s comments about a ceasefire. Later, in a post on X, Zelenskyy described Orban’s visit as a “clear signal of the importance of European unity and collective action.”

“We discussed the path to a just, lasting, and fair peace,” Zelenskyy added.

Many Ukrainians fear that a ceasefire would solidify Russia’s control over the territories it has seized from Ukraine. They prefer negotiations from a position of strength rather than weakness.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba indicated that Ukraine is open to working with all parties to resolve issues. “This work is challenging and time-consuming, but it eventually yields tangible results,” Kuleba told the BBC. “During the visit, President Zelenskyy had a candid but constructive discussion with Prime Minister Orban about achieving a just peace, not merely a ceasefire or peace talks.”

The leaders also addressed bilateral matters, including the situation of the 100,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Ukraine. Orban expressed confidence in progress on the rights of these ethnic Hungarians and conveyed his best wishes for Ukraine’s success.

The EU had initiated membership talks with Ukraine the week before Hungary assumed the EU Council Presidency.




Russia accused of attempting to sway Moldova election

On June 13, The United States, Britain, and Canada accused Russia of attempting to influence the outcome of the Moldovan presidential election in October and incite protests if a pro-Moscow candidate loses.

In a State Department in Washington statement, the three allies accused Russia of trying to stir societal tensions and create negative perceptions of the West and Moldova’s pro-Western President Maia Sandu’s administration through disinformation and online propaganda. They warned that Russian actors are carrying out a plot to influence Moldova’s 2024 presidential election outcomes, which they said is part of broader efforts by Moscow to subvert democratic elections and secure results favourable to the Kremlin. The statement emphasised that this threat is particularly relevant as millions of voters in Europe and North America prepare for national, regional, and local elections this year.

The allegation followed US sanctions on Evgenia Gutul, the pro-Russia governor of Moldova’s Gagauzia region, who faces claims of channelling funds from Russia to finance the now-banned Shor Party set up by Ilan Shor, an exiled pro-Russia businessman convicted of fraud in Moldova. Gutul denies the charges, calling them fabricated. During a visit to Chisinau last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored concerns about the Kremlin’s use of criminal groups in Gagauzia to bring in Russian money to finance destabilising activities and attempts to bribe the elections.

In their joint statement, the allies echoed these concerns, stressing that Moscow’s political interference is a long-standing issue. They cited “direct support” that employees of Russia’s state-funded RT media network have provided to Ilan Shor as an example of this interference. The allies’ united stance highlights the importance of international cooperation in addressing and countering foreign interference in democratic elections, particularly as Moldova prepares for its critical presidential election later this year. Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Recean expressed gratitude for the support on social media platform X, pledging that the Kremlin’s attempts to undermine Moldova’s sovereignty and incite unrest would fail.




Interpol and FBI crackdown on Moldovan evasion scheme for wanted criminals

A multinational operation led by Interpol and the FBI cracked down on an evasion scheme over a Red Notice Interpol system, allowing wanted criminals to bypass the system and seek asylum in Moldova. Four interior ministry employees have been detained and charged with corruption, with the Moldovan Interpol Chief later following suit. Allegations of links to organised crime also occurred.

The Interpol´s Red Notice system is used for identifying and locating fugitives and for requests for a provisional arrest. The investigation led to five people being suspected of paying intermediaries and public figures in Moldova to inform wanted criminals of their Red Notice status. The scheme also included obtaining asylum or refugee status in Moldova and other countries for the criminals to block and delete the red notices by bribing officials with a total of several million dollars. The investigation also raises suspicion of the scheme´s link to organised crime groups from Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.

Four interior ministry employees were charged with corruption, with Moldovan Interpol Chief Viorel Tentiu also being charged and pleading not guilty. However, The investigation is ongoing, and more arrests and charges could be made.

The head of Moldova’s Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, Veronica Dragalin, expressed commitment “to fighting high-level corruption in all of its forms, particularly those schemes that put in jeopardy criminal investigations worldwide”.

  • Agence France Presse, “Moldova’s Interpol Chief Charged With Corruption”,
  • Radio Free Europe, “Moldova Cracks Down On Interpol Evasion Scheme With Help From France, U.S., Britain”,
Moldova’s Central Bank Takes Action Against Russian Financial Activities

On June 28, Moldova’s National Bank (BNM) announced efforts to combat illegal financial flows from Russia following a local council’s decision to provide additional payments to pensioners using a Russian-sanctioned bank. The BNM is working with the Prevention and Combating Money Laundering Service and other authorities to prevent unauthorised transactions and the illegal use of Russian card payment systems in Moldova.

The BNM stressed that the use of the Russian MIR card payment system is illegal in Moldova. International financial platforms can facilitate cross-border transfers, including those by sanctioned entities from Russia to Moldova, the BNM noted.

This action followed the Municipal Council in Orhei’s announcement of agreements with Promsvyazbank, a bank linked to the Russian Ministry of Defence and under international sanctions. The Alternative and Salvation Force of Moldova (FASM), allied with Shor and holding a majority in the council, plans to attract funds from Russia to aid pensioners using MIR cards, which are not approved by the National Bank of Moldova.

Shor’s party claims these agreements would allow them to provide pensioners with 2,000 lei per month (about 100 euros) for “philanthropic and sponsorship” purposes. The Eurasia organisation, created in Russia by Shor’s associates, intends to channel the funds through Promsvyazbank, aiming to disrupt Moldova’s pro-European trajectory, according to authorities.

The National Bank warned that such transactions fall under laws preventing money laundering and enforcing international restrictive measures. Licensed banks have been cautioned to apply due diligence to avoid involvement in illegal financing schemes, including money laundering and terrorism financing.

Anca Dragu, the BNM’s governor, stated that individuals using MIR cards could face criminal charges, emphasising the criminal consequences of using unauthorised payment methods and illegal money. These activities are being investigated by specialised services.

Shor used a similar scheme last year to influence elections in Gagauzia and in local elections in November 2023. Authorities have charged Shor-affiliated parties with electoral bribery and election fraud, and the trial is ongoing.

Shor is currently in Moscow after receiving a 15-year sentence in absentia in April 2023 for his role in the “Grand Theft” of one billion US dollars from three Moldovan banks between 2012 and 2014. From Moscow, he directs several political parties advocating closer ties to Russia and a departure from Moldova’s European path.

  • Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight, “Moldova National Bank Pledges to Curb Illegal Money Flows From Russia”,

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