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

BRUSSELS Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:25am EDT

NATO's top military chief, General Philip Breedlove, speaks about the conflict in Syria during a news conference at Pristina Military Airport June 7, 2013. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

NATO's top military chief, General Philip Breedlove, speaks about the conflict in Syria during a news conference at Pristina Military Airport June 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Hazir Reka

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - 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 neighboring 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 neighboring 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. (Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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Comments (7)
cortezj29 wrote:
Are Ukrainians the new French? They consistently give up weapons and military hardware without using them.

Mar 23, 2014 7:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
boreal wrote:
The much flogged democracy, liberty, freedom, motherhood and the kitchen sink aside, if we would avoid hypnotically suggested/forced upon us tunnel vision and just compare Crimea to the Falklands and Kosovo adventures in cost of limb & lives, this one went rather well.

Mar 23, 2014 7:50am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Radecmonebal wrote:
In 1990, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) merged with the neighbouring Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), whose language and culture it broadly shares.

Question: does the phrase above sound weird to you?

The Republic of Moldova is to Romania what East Germany is to West Germany – the same people, the same nation, the same country, split into two and divided by Imperial Communism/the Russians.

Mar 23, 2014 7:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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