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Row in Moldova over US military drills in Ukraine
by Staff Writers
Chisinau (AFP) Sept 8, 2017

Moldova's president accused the government Friday of defying him by sending troops to join US-led military drills in Ukraine and vowed to punish those responsible, in the latest crisis to hit the ex-Soviet country.

President Igor Dodon said 57 soldiers had left Thursday to join the Rapid Trident exercises spearheaded by US Army Europe, in defiance of a presidential decree banning participation in military exercises abroad.

"In a presidential country, the prime minister would be gone from his post already Thursday evening," he fumed at a news conference. "We'll get to that, nothing is forgotten."

The soldiers were sent to Ukraine despite Dodon announcing on Tuesday he had cancelled their participation in the exercises, underscoring the political divisions in Moldova.

"We do not accept involvement by Moldovan servicemen in military exercises beyond national borders," he said on Facebook at the time.

On Friday, he said the government had tried to exploit a loophole in Moldovan laws which allow participation of troops in foreign exercises in some cases.

"What NATO drills can we talk about if Moldova is a neutral country?" he said.

NATO insists that the drills are being conducted by US Army Europe and are not a NATO exercise.

"For the first time the government is giving orders to the armed forces in defiance of the orders of the commander-in-chief. That is unacceptable," Dodon said.

Wedged between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova is split between those favouring ties with former master Moscow and pro-European politicians.

While figurehead leader Dodon supports a strategic partnership with Russia, Moldova's government is pro-European.

The annual Rapid Trident exercises in Ukraine last from September 8 to 23 and involve 1,800 personnel from 14 countries.

Russia tells NATO not to worry over war games
Moscow (AFP) Sept 7, 2017
Russia's military chief on Thursday brushed off NATO concerns about Moscow's war games with Belarus next week at a rare meeting with a senior commander from the US-led alliance. The Russian defence ministry said Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov told Petr Pavel, chairman of NATO's Military Committee that the joint exercises with Belarus were "long-planned and defensive" and "not ai ... read more

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