NATO commander warns on Russian troops and Moldovan Transnistria

NATO commander warns on Russian troops and Moldovan Transnistria

BELBEK, Crimea — NATO’s top military commander warned Sunday that Russia could seek to expand its territorial conquest to new areas, just a day after Russian forces seized some of the final Ukrainian military installations in the contested Crimean Peninsula.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Europe, said Russia had assembled a large force on Ukraine’s eastern border that could pose a threat to Moldova’s separatist Transnistria region. …

“The [Russian] force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizeable and very, very ready,” Breedlove said at an event sponsored by the German Marshall Fund.

“There is absolutely sufficient force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Transdniestria if the decision was made to do that, and that is very worrisome,” Breedlove said.

Transdniestria, a narrow strip of land wedged between the rest of Moldova and southern Ukraine, proclaimed its independence in 1990. Although the move was not recognized internationally, the region has its own constitution and currency, and pro-Russian sentiment there runs high. Russian forces are also stationed in the territory — as they were in Crimea even before the current crisis began.

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