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Opposition protesting as NATO troops arrive in Moldova

About 200 U.S. troops in an armored column have entered Moldova through the Sculeni checkpoint (Romania). The official reason of the deployment of the NATO troops and armory in Moldova is participation in the joint exercises code-named Dragon Pioneer 2016 to be held on May 3-21. Moldova will be represented by 165 troops. The NATO column comprises more than 100 pieces of armored vehicles, which is twice as much as the Moldavian Defense Ministry had announced.

A group of representatives of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and some Socialist parliamentarians blocked the highway at the Sculeni checkpoint not to let the column into the country. The NATO troops could continue their way only after the Defense Ministry and Police of Moldova interfered.

The exercises will be held at the engineering battalion Negresti and Infantry Brigade "Moldova" – Bălţi as part of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Moldova joint PfP in 1994.

The tactical maneuvers include fortifying exercises, overcoming obstacles, building a bridge over a river, structure destructions, surviving in the battlefield conditions, offering medical assistance and evacuating the wounded soldiers.

It is noteworthy that in February 2016, seventeen newly elected generals and admirals and a civil servant of the U.S. Defense Department command staff were visiting Chisinau as part of a regional tour. In March, Moldova hosted joint military exercises Agile Hunter 2016 that involved about 130 servicemen.

Afterwards, Phil Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, traveled to Moldova and held meetings with the country’s leadership. President of Moldova Nicolae Timofti then came out for opening a NATO Liaison Office in Chisinau and boosting cooperation between Moldova, U.S. and NATO.

EADaily reported earlier that on May 9, on Victory Day, dozens of pieces of armored vehicles of the U.S. Army (part of NATO military bloc) will be deployed to the Great National Assembly Square in the city center.

Earlier, representatives of the Romanian army (NATO member) announced that the events are held as part of Atlantic Resolve Operation that implies deployment of U.S. forces in Europe to upgrade crisis response measures, demonstrate the U.S. continued commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to the enduring peace and stability. Another goal of Atlantic Resolve Operation is to enforce the eastern ground flank of NATO to face the current security climate. Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Moldova Andrei Galbur says Moldova’s partnership with NATO is “for peace” only and is not dangerous for the country.

Under the constitution, the Republic of Moldova is a neutral state and has no right to join any military blocs.

Since 1992, nearly 1,500 of Russian troops have been deployed in the self-proclaimed Transnistrian Moldovan Republic, with 380 of them having the status of international peacekeepers, while the rest are the servicemen of the former Russian 14th Guard Army.

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