Moscow has been accused of seeking to destabilize Moldova’s pro-Western government in an effort to cause a distraction from its struggles in Ukraine.
Moldova is a former Soviet republic home to around 2.6 million people located between Ukraine and Romania.
There were protests on Sunday, the latest in a series organized by a group calling itself Movement for the People, which is backed by Moldova’s Russia-friendly Shor Party.
The demonstrators are demanding the government fully cover the costs of winter energy bills and to „not involve the country in war”.
Police said they arrested 54 protesters on Sunday, including 21 minors, who exhibited „questionable behavior”.
The US has accused Moscow of trying to destabilize Moldova and install a more pro-Russian government, but says it does not believe there is an imminent military threat.
John Kirby, the White House’s national security spokesperson, said: „As Moldova continues to integrate with Europe, we believe Russia is pursuing options to weaken the Moldovan government probably with the eventual goal of seeing a more Russian friendly administration in the capital.
„More specifically, Russian actors, some with current ties to Russian intelligence, are seeking to stage and use protests in Moldova as a basis to foment and manufacture insurrection against the Moldovan government.”
Russia has rejected the accusation that Moscow is plotting to destabilize Moldova.
„Such claims are completely unfounded and unsubstantiated,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement last month.