People trade jittery messages on social media as Russian troops move through neighboring Ukraine. Some Moldovans are stockpiling foreign currency and drawing up plans to flee. Many, seeing how abruptly lives collapsed in Ukraine, say they fear the potential for catastrophe in their own country: All it takes is for Russian President Vladimir Putin to expand his ambitions.

“You never know what is in the mind of a crazy person,” said Evgheni Liuft, 32, who lives in Moldova’s capital of Chisinau.

Ten days into a conflict that is shifting alliances and upending the world order, the repercussions are hitting most directly in countries such as Moldova — post-Soviet nations that balanced for years between East and West, and are now realizing the middle ground is untenable.


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