The FINANCIAL — Moldovan President Igor Dodon says he has canceled the participation of a small contingent of Moldovan soldiers in upcoming NATO exercises.
Russia-friendly Dodon posted his decision on his Facebook page on September 5, according to RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service.
Dodon rejected a request by the Defense Ministry to send 57 Moldovan troops to the drills in western Ukraine on September 7-23.
“We do not accept involvement by Moldovan servicemen in military exercises beyond the national borders,” Dodon wrote in a letter.
The Rapid Trident exercise, which Moldova has been attending since 1996, will take place this year near Iavoriv, close to Ukraine’s border with Poland. Some 1,800 troops from 14 mostly NATO member countries will attend.
While figurehead leader Dodon supports a strategic partnership with Russia, Moldova’s government is pro-European.
Dodon earlier this year said that he was against NATO opening a planned liaison office in the capital Chisinau.
Moldova’s government last month called on the United Nations to discuss the withdrawal of Russian troops from its breakaway Transdniester region at the upcoming 72nd session of the UN General Assembly session, which opens on September 12.
In July, the Moldovan parliament approved a “symbolic” statement that called for the removal of Russian troops, weapons, and other military equipment from Transdniester.
Moscow keeps an estimated 2,000-strong contingent in Transdniester — 1,500 troops who Moscow says guard Soviet-era arms depots, and up to 500 peacekeepers to ensure an uneasy 25-year-old cease-fire which ended a bloody conflict between Moldova and its eastern breakaway region.