Moldova briefly shuts airspace after report of balloon-like object

February 15, 2023 7:02 am

Exterior view of Chisinau International Airport, in Chisinau, Moldova.

Moldova briefly closed its air space on Tuesday to investigate reports of a balloon-like object in the sky, a day after the small east European country accused Russia of plotting to bring down its government.

Russia denied the accusation by President Maia Sandu, who has repeatedly expressed concern about Russia’s intentions towards the former Soviet republic since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Moldova’s civil aviation authority said it acted after receiving a defence ministry report that a small object resembling a weather balloon had been seen over the north of the country, close to the border with Ukraine.

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In a statement, it said that “given the weather conditions and the impossibility of observing and identifying the object and its flight path,” the airspace had been closed.

Once authorities had established there was no threat to the safety of citizens, it cancelled the closure an hour and 22 minutes later.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last week his country had uncovered a Russian intelligence plan “for the destruction of Moldova”. Days later, Moldova’s government resigned.

Moldova said on Feb. 10 a Russian missile had violated its airspace during an attack on Ukrainian infrastructure and summoned the Russian ambassador to protest.