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Moldova Protests Russian Military Exercise In Transdniester

Chisinau has described Russian military drills in Transdniester as illegal.

The Moldovan Foreign Ministry has complained to Russian diplomats over a recent military exercise involving Russian troops on the territory of Transdniester, a region of Moldova de facto controlled by Russia-backed separatists.

The ministry issued a statement on August 18 saying that the exercise was illegal, "provocative, and inadmissible." It aimed to "undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Moldova, the statement added.

The ministry repeated Chisinau's demand that Russia withdraw its forces and heavy weaponry from the country and that the peacekeeping operation be handed over to international organizations.

It was the second time that exercises involving separatists and Russian forces have been held in Transdniester this month.

Russia has maintained a force of some 1,000 troops in Moldova since a cease-fire was brokered in 1992 after a brief, bloody conflict between the separatists and the Moldovan state.

Some 1,500 people died in that conflict.

In 1999, Moscow agreed to a complete withdrawal of its forces by 2002, but has failed to implement that agreement despite repeated appeals by the Moldovan government for it to do so.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax