Russia has big force at Ukraine's border, NATO worries over Transdniestria

NATO's top military commander said that Russia had a large force on Ukraine's eastern border and said he was worried it could pose a threat to Moldova's separatist Transdniestria region.

Russia has big force at Ukraine's border, NATO worries over Transdniestria

World Bulletin/News Desk

NATO's top military commander said on Sunday that Russia had a large force on Ukraine's eastern border and said he was worried it could pose a threat to Moldova's mainly Russian-speaking separatist Transdniestria region.

NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, voiced concern about Moscow using a tactic of snap military exercises to prepare its forces for possible rapid incursions into a neighbouring state, as it had done in the case of Ukraine's Crimea region.

Russia launched a new military exercise, involving 8,500 artillery men, near Ukraine's border 10 days ago.

"The (Russian) force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizeable and very, very ready," Breedlove told an event held by the German Marshall Fund think-tank.

The president of ex-Soviet Moldova warned Russia last Tuesday against considering any move to annex Transdniestria, which lies on Ukraine's western border, in the same way that it has taken control of Crimea.

The speaker of Transdniestria's separatist parliament had urged Russia earlier to incorporate his mainly Russian-speaking region.

Transdniestria split away from Moldova in 1990, one year before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, amid fears that Moldova would shortly merge with neighbouring Romania, whose language and culture it broadly shares.

Breedlove said NATO was very concerned about the threat to Transdniestria, which he said, in Russia's view, was the "next place where Russian-speaking people may need to be incorporated."

"There is absolutely sufficient (Russian) force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Transdniestria if the decision was made to do that and that is very worrisome."

NATO had tried to make Russia a partner but "now it is very clear that Russia is acting much more like an adversary than a partner," he said.

ROMANIA WARNING

Romania’s president said that Russia has created a chain of conflicts around the Black Sea to further President Vladimir Putin’s goal of rebuilding the former Soviet Union along its former border with the West last Monday.

Traian Basescu said he fears that neighboring Moldova is “in great danger” as Washington Post reported, and added “If you look at the map, you will see this chain of frozen conflicts” around the Black Sea “that can be set off at any time,” referring to conflicts in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.

Basescu said Putin’s priorities “seem to be connected to the point of contact between the European Union and NATO.” He said Ukraine and Moldova were “a priority for Vladimir Putin, who wants to rebuild the Soviet Union.”

Russia has 1,500 troops stationed in the separatist republic of Trans-Dniester since 1990, when it broke away from Moldova, fearing that country would reunite with Romania. Trans-Dniester is not internationally recognized but is supported by Russia.

Meanwhile, Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Sunday Russia is complying with international agreements limiting the number of troops near its border with Ukraine.

"The Russian Defense Ministry is in compliance with all international agreements limiting the number of troops in the border areas with Ukraine," Antonov was quoted as saying by the state Itar-Tass news agency.

 

Last Mod: 23 Mart 2014, 13:33
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