The president of Moldova on Tuesday said he had cancelled the participation of a small group of Moldovan soldiers in upcoming NATO exercises, in a symbolic move underscoring the political split in the ex-Soviet state.
Kremlin-friendly President Igor Dodon, who was elected in November and wants to steer from warmer EU ties towards better relations with Moscow, posted his decision on his Facebook page.
Dodon rejected a request by the defense ministry to send 57 Moldovan soldiers to the drills in western Ukraine from September 7-23. “We do not accept involvement by Moldovan servicemen in military exercises beyond the national borders,” Dodon wrote in a letter.
Wedged between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova has endured a split between those favoring ties with ex-Soviet master Moscow and pro-European politicians. While figurehead leader Dodon supports a strategic partnership with Russia, Moldova’s government is pro-European.
Dodon earlier this year said he is against NATO opening a planned liaison office in the capital Chisinau. The Moldovan parliament voted in July to demand that Moscow pulls out soldiers stationed in Moldova’s breakaway territory of Transdniestr.