BUDGET airline Wizz Air will suspend all its flights to and from Moldova next month due to security concerns linked to growing tensions with Russia.
The Hungarian airline became the first to announce a suspension of flights from the UK to the country, which borders Ukraine on its north, east and south.
In a statement, the airline said: “Due to recent developments and the high, though not imminent, risk in the country's airspace, Wizz Air has taken the difficult but responsible decision to suspend all its flights to Chișinău as of March 14."
Wizz Air fly to the Moldovan capital Chișinău from Luton Airport.
Moldova’s infrastructure ministry said it regretted Wizz Air’s decision, assuring in a statement that flights “which respect a number of procedures, could be carried out safely”.
The move follows on from Moldovan president Maiai Sandu accusing Russia of plotting to overthrow the country's pro-European leadership with individuals masquerading as anti-government protesters.
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The plan involved citizens of Russia, Montenegro, Belarus and Serbia entering Moldova to try to spark protests in an attempt to “change the legitimate government to an illegal government controlled by the Russian Federation”, Sandu said.
Meanwhile, Russia's defence ministry has alleged that Ukrainian saboteurs dressed as Russian troops would attack from Transnistria, to provide a pretext for a Ukrainian invasion.
Transnistria, also known as Pridnestrovia, is a small breakaway region in the former Soviet republic of Moldova where pro-Russian separatists have been armed and backed by Moscow.
The area have adopted a policy of supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shortly after war broke out last year and has allowed Russian troops to be stationed in its borders.
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The statement from Moldova’s president came just weeks before Russia told western countries that it would view any actions that threatened Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria as a direct attack on Russia.
While Moldova, which has a population of around 2.6 million, has tried to avoid involvement in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its proximity to the war has had significant consequences to its people.
The country has been caught in the crossfire of the Russia-Ukraine conflict over the past year.
It has intermittently been forced to shut down its airspace, and has suffered crippling energy blackouts as a result of debilitating Russian airstrikes on Ukrainian infrastructure.
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