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TIRASPOL, May 20. /TASS/. More active joint Moldovan-NATO drills near Transdniestria’s border are a threat to stability in the region, Yevgeny Shevchuk, the leader of the unrecognized republic of Transdniestria, told a news conference on Friday.
"I would like to call on all participants in such drills not to add fuel to the fire in this difficult period in relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol," he said, adding that the recent visit by NATO’s top-ranking generals to Chisinau and the provocations planned in Moldova on the Victory Day were regarded in Tiraspol as a "serious impetus of the destabilizing nature."
"We don’t understand why extra tension should be created in this region where the peacekeeping operation is being conducted in uneasy conditions but quite efficiently," Shevchuk said. "Probably, to make it easier for some political forces far beyond our borders to derive their geopolitical dividends. They are indulging in saber rattling and putting human lives at stake. It is a very dangerous undertaking."
Tiraspol is worried over not only Moldova’s military preparations but also over additional Ukrainian forces deployed along the Transdniestrian border. "We are forced to keep our armed forces in a certain state of alert," he said.
The recently held joint NATO-Moldova military exercise Dragon Pioneer-2016 involved 198 servicemen of the US army second cavalry regiment and 58 units of heavy weapons. The arrival of U.S. soldiers was met with opposition protests in Moldova.
Lawmakers and activists of Moldova’s Party of Socialists blocked the convoy of U.S. military vehicles at the border with Romania. The Moldovan police had to get involved in the situation. The party activists also staged a rally in protests of the Moldovan defense ministry’s plans to organize an exhibition of US combat vehicles in central Chisinau on May 9, the Victory Day. The exhibition was held on May 8.