The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on two Moldovan oligarchs and others for corruption or allegedly working with Russia to undermine the frontline country's democracy.
The sanctions come as Western powers seek to bolster support for Moldova amid fears of a spillover from the war in neighboring Ukraine, with Russia maintaining troops in Moldova's breakaway region of Transnistria.
The United States said it was blocking any US assets and criminalizing transactions with Ilan Shor, an Israeli-born businessman turned populist politician in Moldova which he fled in 2019.
Married to a pop singer decorated by President Vladimir Putin, Shor was convicted over stealing $1 billion from Moldovan banks in 2014.
The US Treasury Department said Shor worked with Russia to create an alliance ahead of 2021 elections and later coordinated with Moscow to blunt Moldova's efforts to join the European Union.
The Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on another powerful oligarch, Vladimir Plahotniuc, who fled the country in 2020 under the shadow of graft allegations and has already been refused entry by the United States.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was "promoting accountability for systemic efforts to undermine Moldova's democratic institutions and elections."
"The United States will continue to hold accountable those threatening democracy abroad," he said in a statement.
The Treasury Department also targeted seven other people and 12 entities over alleged Russian efforts to meddle in Moldovan politics.