NATO general's concern over 'sizeable' Russian forces

Concern expressed over eastern Ukraine and Moldova's breakaway Trans-Dniester region

Concern expressed over eastern Ukraine and Moldova's breakaway Trans-Dniester region

BRUSSELS – NATO’s top military commander has warned that Russia’s sizeable armed forces deployed on the borders of Ukraine and Moldova are ready to move “once the order is given”.

Speaking on Sunday, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe said: “Russian forces deployed on Moldovan and Ukrainian borders are very sizeable and ready to enter in Trans-Dniester and in the east parts of Ukraine once the order is given.”

Breedlove was speaking at an event held by the German Marshall Fund think-tank, where he claimed that although NATO had tried to make Russia a partner, Moscow was acting more like an adversary.

The NATO commander’s claims follow Saturday’s White House concern over Russian troops massing along Ukraine’s eastern border soon after Moscow had officially annexed the breakaway Crimea region into the Russian Federation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the annexation agreement on Tuesday, triggering the U.S. and European Union’s declaration of sanctions against key Russian officials.

Baltic countries which have Russian-speaking populations with separatist tendencies now fear the Crimean example might set a precedent.

In addition, Moldova is afraid that Russia could enter the predominantly Russian-speaking Trans-Dniester region which seceded from Chisinau more than two decades ago but remains unrecognized by the international community. There is growing concern that Moscow could also intervene in Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine.

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