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Moldovan Troops To Join Exercises With NATO Countries Despite Dodon's Opposition

Moldovan soldiers in Chisinau stand in formation before their departure for Rapid Trident maneuvers in Ukraine on September 6.

Moldovan troops will take part in September 8-23 multinational military exercises in Ukraine despite pro-Russian President Igor Dodon's bid to keep them out of the drills.

The Moldovan Defense Ministry said on September 6 that 57 military personnel would participate in the Rapid Trident maneuvers, which involve 1,800 troops from 14 countries -- most of them NATO members.

Dodon announced on Facebook on September 5 that he had rejected the Defense Ministry's request to send the troops, saying that "involvement by Moldovan servicemen in military exercises beyond the national borders" is unacceptable.

The Moldovan government later overruled Dodon's decision.

The dispute has underscored divisions in Moldova, where Dodon is frequently at odds on foreign policy with a government that favors closer ties with the European Union and the United States.

The Rapid Trident exercises, held in western Ukraine near the Polish border, are aimed to foster improved interoperability among forces of countries in NATO and its Partnership for Peace program.

The countries participating are Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Italy, Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Russia and Belarus are holding their own military drills, Zapad 2017, on September 14-20 in Belarus and parts of western Russia.