CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) -- Moldova's government collapsed Friday as pro-Western Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned, adding to a series of crises that have gripped the small nation since Russia invaded its neighbor, Ukraine.
Gavrilita told a news conference that the "time has come for me to announce my resignation" and said no one expected her government, elected in the summer of 2021, "would have to manage so many crises caused by Russian aggression in Ukraine."
Gavrilita's premiership was marked by a long string of problems. These include an acute energy crisis after Moscow dramatically reduced supplies to Moldova; skyrocketing inflation; and several troublesome incidents such as missiles from the war in neighboring Ukraine traversing its skies.
"I took over the government with an anti-corruption, pro-development and pro-European mandate at a time when corruption schemes had captured all the institutions and the oligarchs felt untouchable," Gavrilita said. "We were immediately faced with energy blackmail, and those who did this hoped that we would give in."
"The bet of the enemies of our country was that we would act like previous governments, who gave up energy interests, who betrayed the national interest in exchange for short-term benefits," she added.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu thanked Gavrilita on Friday for her "enormous sacrifice and efforts to lead the country in a time of so many crises."
"Despite unprecedented challenges, the country was governed responsibly, with great care and dedicated work," Sandu said. "We have stability, peace and development -- where others wanted war and bankruptcy."
Sandu added that she will hold consultations with parliamentary factions and appoint a candidate for the leadership position, without stating when.
Gavrilita, a 41-year-old economist, was appointed prime minister in August 2021 after her pro-Western Party of Action and Solidarity, or PAS, won a parliamentary election on a pro-EU, reformist ticket in the former Soviet republic.