In a Facebook post on August 7, Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian deputy prime minister overseeing the country’s defense industry, claimed that the United States is starting to train Moldovan “saboteurs and special forces” in case of a conflict with Transdniester, a territory that broke away from Moldova after a military conflict in 1992, and which hosts a Russian peace-keeping force.
“‘Design and construction of facilities for military operations training in urban terrain’ – the Americans are starting to train Moldovan saboteurs and special forces in the event of new armed conflict with Transdniester,” he wrote.
Rogozin was commenting on an article on RT’s website stating that the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) will build an urban terrain facility at Moldova’s Bulboaca Training Base.
A separate RT article on the issue highlighted the U.S. and NATO’s growing military engagement with Moldova, noting an increase in the number of joint military exercises.
However, Rogozin and RT did not mention that these facilities are not military facilities and have nothing to do with NATO or training of “saboteurs” for a possible conflict in the separatist region. The facilities in question are in fact civilian-type buildings for regular peacekeeping training under the United Nations mandate.
RT lists the types of buildings, but refers to them as military facilities. NAVFAC, however, specifically said that it was assessing the readiness of contractors to design and build an office, an apartment building and a hotel. It also gave options to build a townhouse, a school, a trade center, a service station or another apartment building.
Moreover, Moldova’s Defense Ministry, cited by the Moldovan newspaper Ziarul de Garda, stated that the modernization of the training center was initiated under the UN-organized, U.S.-funded Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), which granted the ministry $1.6 million for this purpose.
“This activity is not associated with NATO and does not affect the country's neutrality, as was said in the RT material,” the ministry said.
According to the U.S. State Department: “At the 2004 G8 Sea Island Summit, G8 leaders committed to a broad Action Plan for Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations…GPOI was launched as the U.S. contribution to meeting the commitments outlined in the G8 Action Plan.”
This underscores that the president of Russia, which in 2004 was still a G8 member, also committed to the plan.
Both Rogozin’s statement and RT’s article create the false impression of an outsized U.S. military influence and presence in Moldova, which is allegedly threatening Russia’s military security and aiming to provoke a conflict in Transdniester by readying Moldovan “saboteurs and special forces.”
Unlike Russia, the United States does not have military forces stationed in Moldova or Transdniester. However, like Russia and other states, the United States provides training assistance to various countries and conducts joint military drills to improve their capabilities.
Russia has been concerned about pro-Western views and the desire to join NATO expressed by some Moldovan elites, mounting a strong information campaign to oppose this. Underscoring the tensions between the two countries, Moldova earlier this month declared Rogozin persona non grata, barring him from entering the country.