Ukraine neighbor Moldova begs for Western support over fears of Putin's next move

Millions of people have fled Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his bloody assault on the neighboring country to the west. It's been well documented that many Ukrainians have fled to nearby Poland and other western European countries.

But just to Ukraine's southwest, the relatively small country of Moldova has taken in more war refugees per capita than any other European country. Moldova is a former Soviet bloc country and is not a member of the European Union.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, Nicu Popescu, Moldova’s minister of foreign affairs and European integration, "called on the United States and the EU to pay more attention to Moldova’s struggle, in order to maintain the economy and security of the country. He asked for 'flexible and rapid aid to Ukraine’s most vulnerable neighbor.'”

Since the first bombs rained down on the Ukrainian port city of Odesa in late February, the 2.6 million residents of Moldova have taken in more than 400,000 refugees. Most of them have moved on to other countries, but about 100,000 remain in the country, straining its resources.

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The founder of the Moldovan media outlet Newsmaker, Vladimir Solovyev, told The Daily Beast that Moldova’s problems have been "piling up" rapidly, and that the West should realize that "Moldova practically has no army, its security threats are huge, and there is an economic crisis."

The country is worried that Putin might soon turn his military attention to it.

The country's foreign minister says it is awaiting a decision on its application to become part of the EU, which it submitted earlier this year.

“Our society strongly votes for independence, for democracy, for joining the European Union as soon as possible,” Popescu told The Daily Beast. “The absolute majority of Moldovan citizens, as well as people in Transnistria, want peace. We hear voices from Russia - some ideas of rebuilding the Soviet Union. But the Soviet Union is dead.”