Invasion shakes Russian friends in a small western Moldova

COMRAT, Moldova (AP) —a small poor Moldova across the war-torn border with Ukraine — the former Soviet Republic, now eager to look west — is watching over for fear of a Russian invasion. increase.

In Gagauzia, a small autonomous region of the country traditionally felt closer to the Kremlin than the West, people usually favored Russia, which they never wanted to leave when Moldova became independent. But this time, most people have a hard time equating with either side of the war.

Anna Coejogro says she is in terrible conflict.

“I have a sister (in Ukraine). There is a nephew. My son is in Kyiv,” said the 52-year-old son immediately, and her other young sons studying in Russia. I added that there is.

“My heart is (broken) and I’m on fire,” she told The Associated Press.

Koejoglo is one of the 160,000 Gagauzians of Moldova, a Turkic Orthodox Christian who settled there by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. They make up more than 80% of Gagauzia’s population, but only 5% of Moldova’s 2.6 million people.

When the landlocked Moldova resolved to leave the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the Gagauz and Russian minorities wanted to stay. However, unlike the Russian-backed separatists in eastern Moldova, who established the unrecognized and isolated Transnistrian region in 1992, Russia basically ruled and maintained an army of about 1,500. increase. The southern Gagauz people chose to compromise.

In 1994, they reached an agreement with the government in Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, and gained a high degree of autonomy. Nevertheless, Gagauzia maintains strong relations with Russia, and many Gagauzia find educational and employment opportunities. Its population opposes the pro-Western shift accepted by the Moldovans, who generally make up 75% of the country’s population.

For Peotr Sarangi, a 25-year-old Gagauz, the old bond is still there.

“Gagauzia’s population is more supportive of Russia, and many remain pro-Russian,” he said.

Moldova is military neutral and has no plans to join NATO, but officially applied for EU membership when the Russian invasion began. It also accepts about one-tenth of the more than 2.3 million Ukrainians who have fled their country for security.

Ilona Manolo, a 20-year-old Gagauz, has no problem holding Moscow accountable. “I think Russia is responsible …. I want to help (Ukrainian) refugees more than Russia,” she said.

There are similar feelings during the rich patchwork of the Moldovan minorities — even expressed by Russians living outside the separatist region of Transnistria.

Nicola Sidlov, one of the latter groups, described the invasion of Ukraine as “terrible.” He said Russia’s President Vladimir Putin believes that he “needs to go too far (and) calm down.”

He added that the 79-year-old issue has been the subject of intense debate among his family, with Russians accounting for about 15% of the population, in Balti, Moldova’s second largest city.

A Ukrainian living in Balti said her sympathy was divided.

“I’m very sorry for the Ukrainians, but I’m also sorry for the Russians,” said 66-year-old Ilia Popovic. “


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