Concern is growing within NATO over the size of Russian forces amassed at the Ukrainian border, which the organisation’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe said could pose a threat to Moldova’s Transdniestria region, which has a large Russian-speaking population.
Speaking at an event held by the German Marshall Fund think-tank, General Philip Breedlove voiced disquiet that Moscow could be using snap military exercises as cover to prepare for further interventions in neighbouring states.
"The (Russian) force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizeable and very, very ready," said Breedlove, adding that NATO was concerned that Transdniestria was likely viewed by the Kremlin as the "next place where Russian-speaking people may need to be incorporated".
Transdniestria’s separatist parliament has made overtures towards Vladimir Putin to incorporate the region into the Russia Federation, despite Moldova’s president warning Moscow against any such move.
Reported by Reuters, Breedlove said: "There is absolutely sufficient (Russian) 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." On NATO’s relationship with Russia, he added: "It is very clear that Russia is acting much more like an adversary than a partner."