The British, American and Canadian Governments have condemned Russia for attempting to “influence, subvert, and undermine” elections in Moldova.

In a joint statement released while the countries’ leaders are attending a G7 meeting in Italy, they said the Kremlin is using “disinformation, criminal and covert activities” to affect the electoral outcome and “will work to incite protests” if a Pro-Russian candidate is not elected.

Moldova’s 2024 presidential election is set to be held on October 20, with a referendum on whether the former Soviet country should join the EU to be held on the same day.

The incumbent president Maia Sandu has been in office since 2020 and is the founder of the pro-EU, liberal Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS).

Moldova has repeatedly accused Russia of conducting a “hybrid war” against the country, meddling in local elections and running vast disinformation campaigns to try to topple the government and derail its path towards joining the EU.

Russia has denied the accusations.

President of Moldova Maia Sandu and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky

President of Moldova Maia Sandu and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky (Carl Court/PA)

In their joint statement, the UK, US and Canada said they are “united in confronting Russia’s aggression and subversion against democratic societies”.

It said: “We also stand firmly against persistent Kremlin attempts to use disinformation, criminal and covert activities, and corruption to undermine sovereignty and democratic processes.

“Free, fair and independent elections are the cornerstone of any democratic society. We have consistently witnessed Russia’s attempts to influence, subvert, and undermine democratic elections in order to secure results favourable to the Kremlin.

“This threat is especially relevant in 2024, a year when hundreds of millions of people across Europe and North America go to the polls to select their leaders in European, national, regional and local elections.

“The Kremlin relies on lies, deceit, corruption and disinformation to undermine sovereignty and democracy. While democracy thrives on openness and truth-telling, authoritarianism and disinformation depend on secrecy and deception.”

The statement claimed that Moldova’s security institutions have warned that the Kremlin is seeking to undermine Moldovan democratic institutions in the leadup to October presidential elections and a referendum on EU membership.

It said: “We share President Sandu’s strong concerns about the Kremlin’s use of criminal groups to finance political activities and undermine Moldova’s democratic institutions.

“And we commend Moldova’s leaders for continuing to capably manage these threats, build resilience, and maintain peace and security while driving forward democratic reforms and reviving the country’s economy.

“That is why today, in defence of our shared democratic values, we are taking this step to warn our democratic partners and Allies that Russian actors are carrying out a plot to influence outcomes of Moldova’s fall 2024 presidential election.

“They intend to incite protests in Moldova should a pro-Russia candidate not win”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is greeted by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during a welcome ceremony at the G7 leaders’ summit at the Borgo Egnazia resort, in Puglia, Apulia, ItalyPrime Minister Rishi Sunak is greeted by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during a welcome ceremony at the G7 leaders’ summit at the Borgo Egnazia resort, in Puglia, Apulia, Italy

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is greeted by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during a welcome ceremony at the G7 leaders’ summit at the Borgo Egnazia resort, in Puglia, Apulia, Italy (Chris Furlong/PA

It added: “These Russian actors are actively using disinformation and propaganda online, on the air, and on the streets to further their objectives.

“They are agitating criticism of the incumbent Moldovan president’s government and political party, in order to incite protests.”

The three western Governments pledged to “continue to work closely with the Moldovan government on this”.

The statement further said: “By revealing the Kremlin’s plot, we are making it clear to Moscow that we stand for free and fair elections and will not tolerate its attempts to meddle and undermine democratic processes.

“We urge the Kremlin to abandon these efforts to subvert Moldova’s democracy and to respect its sovereignty and the outcomes of free, fair, and independent elections.”

The G7 summit in Italy opened on Thursday with agreement reached on a US proposal to back a 50 billion-dollar (£39 billion) loan to Ukraine using frozen Russian assets as collateral, giving Kyiv a strong show of support even as Europe’s political chessboard shifts to the right.

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