Moldovan presidential candidate Maia Sandu has suggested her opponent, Igor Dodon, made treasonous comments in saying that Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula is now effectively part of Russia, two years after being annexed by Moscow.
In an interview with RFE/RL, Sandu also downplayed some observers' portrayals of the upcoming run-off between her and Dodon, who has advocated closer ties with Moscow
, as a geopolitical struggle.
"My opinion is unambiguous. Crimea is part of Ukraine, occupied by the Russian Federation in violation of international legal norms," she said in the interview this week.
"To confirm that Crimea is part of Russia is a form of high treason, especially given the conditions that we find ourselves, the Republic of Moldova, in where there is an occupied region that is controlled by a separatist regime," she told RFE/RL.
Sandu also argued that Moldovan voters are more concerned about corruption and a lack of economic opportunity than about geopolitical issues.
"I know that my opponent is trying to turn this into a geopolitical vote because he has nothing to offer the voters except for fear," she said.
"I don't agree with this geopolitical campaign. For me, this campaign is between those who are fighting corruption and those who epitomise it. We need a strong state that is capable of defending us from both internal threats and external ones," she added.