Powers meet to pledge urgent support for Moldova as winter nears
PARIS, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Some 45 countries and institutions meet in Paris on Monday to pledge millions of euros of aid for Moldova, as fears mount that it could be further destabilised by the conflict in Ukraine.
Moldova, which lies between Ukraine and Romania, has felt the effects of rising food and energy prices and thousands of refugees arriving in the country of about 2.5 million people, which has taken more refugees per head than any other country.
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Largely dependent on Russia energy supplies, Moldova is facing more difficulties with winter arriving and Moscow cutting natural gas supplies by about 40%, hurting its ability to supply enough electricity to its population.
Moldova is a former part of the Soviet Union, some of whose territory is occupied by Moscow-backed separatists.
Although it has strong historical and linguistic ties to neighbouring European Union member Romania, it relies exclusively on Russia's Gazprom for gas imports.
"Moldova is directly impacted because it's dependent on Russian energy supplies and is a country which has a part of its territory controlled by Russian soldiers so it's especially vulnerable," a French diplomat told reporters at a briefing.
Donor conferences in Berlin and Bucharest earlier this year saw pledges of 659 million euros ($674.68 million) and 615 million euros, respectively. But officials involved in those conferences said this included some repeated pledges, project financing and promises to inject money into the economy rather than direct budgetary support.
The hope would be to use new aid to support Moldova's budget and electricity supplies as well as to cover the costs of hosting thousands of Ukrainian refugees. ($1 = 0.9768 euros) (Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Alexander Smith and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)