This week US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the US is prepping more aid to the Ukrainian government, particularly focusing on propping up its devastated energy infrastructure, but also for the first time unveiling that the tiny country of Moldova will be receiving significant aid for its failing energy grid.
“We know that standing up for Ukraine means accepting difficult costs, particularly for our European allies, but the cost of inaction would be far higher,” Blinken began in Wednesday comments. “Caving to Russia’s aggression, accepting its brazen attempts to redraw borders by force, to tear up the rulebook that has made all of us more secure – that would have repercussions not only in Europe but quite literally around the world.”
That’s when he announced decisions made at a NATO meeting of ministers in Romania: “When we convened that group yesterday here in Bucharest, I announced that the United States will commit over $53 million to send equipment to help stabilize Ukraine’s energy grid and keep Ukraine’s power and electricity running.”
He specified $1.1 billion going to both Ukraine and Moldova:
We’ve also submitted a request to Congress for $1.1 billion to secure Ukraine and Moldova’s energy sector and restore their energy supply. And we will take strong, coordinated action to ensure that President Putin cannot hold the rest of the world hostage to weaponized energy.
Starting last month, Moldovan authorities began informing Western allies it is suffering “massive” blackouts in relations to stepped of Russian airstrikes in neighboring Ukraine.
“As a result of Russia’s bombardment on the Ukrainian energy system, within the last hour, we have massive electricity blackouts in the whole country,” Moldovan deputy prime minister Andrei Spinu stated during the initial round of the major Russian assault on Ukraine’s energy grid weeks ago.
Moldova, an EU aspirant (and seen as ‘NATO-friendly), is heavily reliant on Russia as well as Ukrainian transit points for all of its energy needs.
Russian energy giant Gazprom this week accused Ukraine of diverting natural gas supplies transiting to Moldova and threatened to cut supplies. Previously Gazprom threatened to cut natural gas supplies being sent to Moldova after accusing Ukraine of siphoning off a large quantity during transit.
Additionally, Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria is also seen as a potential flashpoint, and early in the invasion of Ukraine there was constant speculation that the Kremlin was eyeing an incursion into Moldova next. Currently Russia has what it calls “peacekeeping” troops in contested Transnistria.