Moldovan President Igor Dodon has banned the participation of Moldovan servicemen in the Rapid Trident international military exercises planned to take place in Ukraine from September 7 through September 23.
“The participation of Moldovan servicemen in military exercises beyond the boundaries of the country is unacceptable,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
He posted a relevant letter of acting Defense Minister Gheorghe Galbura asking permission for participation in the exercise and a letter of reply from presidential security advisor and secretary of the Supreme Security Council Artur Gumeniuc.
Galbura’s letter says that the Defense Ministry is planning to send 57 Moldovan servicemen to participate in military exercises at Yavoriv firing range in Lviv region of Ukraine.
“The exercises are aimed at promoting cooperation, strengthening defense capacity, and promoting the image of the National Army on the international arena,” Galbura wrote.
The letter contains a reminder that Moldova has been taking part in the exercises together with other members of the Partnership for Peace program since 1996.
“The participation of National Army servicemen in the exercises will promote the training of servicemen for subsequent involvement in peacekeeping operations (the KFOR mission in Kosovo). Moldovan servicemen will travel to the exercise scene by ground transport and use only personal gear (no weapons, ammunition or military vehicles). The Ukrainian side will be responsible for guarding the servicemen and their gear. The organizers of the exercises will bear all the expenses,” the letter says.
In a written response, Gumeniuc says that according to existing information, including that received from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and Ukrainian media reports, these will be international military exercises.
“Thus, under the law On National Defense, participation in such exercises requires the permission of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. We hereby notify that by virtue of his powers the President of the Republic of Moldova has not approved the participation of servicemen of the National Army in these exercises. Therefore, we request that you take measures to cancel preparations to send of a military contingent to the exercises and inform the organizers that the Republic of Moldova will not take part in the exercises,” Gumeniuc’s letter says.
Dodon already banned the involvement of Moldovan servicemen in military exercises held at the Smirdan training center in Romania from February 20 through March 1. The exercises involved a multinational force from the United States, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
After Dodon banned the participation of Moldovan forces, U.S. ambassador James Pettit and Romanian ambassador to Moldova Daniel Ionita wrote him a joint letter. They expressed regret about his decision, accused him of “unfriendly conduct,” and warned him that due to his gesture, “the Moldovan army will be unable to receive necessary training” because “80 percent of this training is a matter of participation in such exercises.”
In a letter of reply, the Moldovan president demanded that foreign diplomats “not interfere in the affairs” of the president and reminded the ambassadors that “the Republic of Moldova is an independent and sovereign state” and that “the presidential office does not accept comments or moral admonition from outsiders about its actions or decisions.”
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