Moldovan president and government clash over participation in military exercise in Ukraine

Moldovan president and government clash over participation in military exercise in Ukraine
Canadian forces participate in airborne operations during Rapid Trident 2011.
By bne IntelliNews September 6, 2017

Moldovan pro-Russian President Igor Dodon banned on September 6 a group of 57 Moldovan military staff from taking part in a military exercise in Ukraine. However, the government insists the military personnel will still attend the exercise.

This is the latest in a longer series of clashes between Dodon and the government. Moldova’s government is pro-EU, but pro-Russian Dodon has been trying to strengthen the country’s relations with Moscow ever since he took office last year.

On September 6, the government approved the participation of the Moldovan military staff in the military exercise in Ukraine, despite Dodon banning the move just one day before. Deputy Defence Minister Gheorghe Galbura had sent the president a letter informing him that military personnel  were planning to attend the Rapid Trident exercise in Ukraine. The deputy minister noted in the document, posted by Dodon on Facebook, that Moldovan military staff have been attending this military training since 1996 and the move will contribute to the soldiers' better training for the KFOR mission in Kosovo.

The conflict escalted later on September 6 when the president announced that he has decided to suspend the government's decision.

"In accordance with Moldova's Constitution, I have decided to suspend the government's decision regarding the participation of the Moldovan military staff in the military exercises in Ukraine," Dodon wrote on Facebook.

"For the first time in my capacity as president, I have decided to make use of my constitutional right, according to Article 88 of the Moldovan Constitution which envisages that the head of the state "suspends the government decisions which are contrary to legislation until a final decision of the Constitutional Court"," he added.

Despite strong opposition from the president, the government said the military personnel will still attend the exercise.

"The president's decision does not prevent the participation of the army into the military exercises in Ukraine because all legal conditions have been met. As a result, the army will attend these exercises, in accordance with the government's decision," government spokeswoman Stela Nistor told Deschide.md.

Rapid Trident is an annual, multinational exercise that serves as the validation for Ukraine's ministry of defense unit currently undergoing at the Ukrainian-led Combat Training Center, under the advisement of allied and partner nations. This year's exercise will take place on September 8-23, at the International Peacekeeping Security Centre near Yavoriv, Ukraine. 

Rapid Trident 17 involves approximately 1,800 personnel from 14 nations, including Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Italy, Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, the UK and the US.

In February, Dodon banned Moldovan military staff from participating in an exercise in neighbouring Romania.

The conflict between the president and the government come on the background of rising tensions in Moldova's breakaway region of Transnistria. 

The Moldovan permanent representative at the UN, Victor Moraru, recently asked the organisation to include on its agenda the topic of the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Transnistria, Moldpress reported on August 23. On July 22, Moldova’s parliament endorsed a statement asking Russian troops to leave the national territory. The parliament invited the government and president to take steps towards having a UN resolution asking for the Russian troops to leave Moldovan territory.

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