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 Moldova military left for NATO Rapid Trident 2017 exercise despite their president's ban. PHOTOS

Moldovan troops have left for Yavoriv shooting range in Ukraine to take part in Sept. 8-23 multinational military exercises despite pro-Russian President Igor Dodon's bid to keep them out of the drills.

Censor.NET reports citing Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.

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The Moldovan Defense Ministry said on Sept. 6 that 57 military personnel would participate in the Rapid Trident maneuvers, which involve 1,800 troops from 14 countries -- most of them NATO members.

Dodon announced on Facebook on Sept. 5 that he had rejected the Defense Ministry's request to send the troops, saying that "involvement by Moldovan servicemen in military exercises beyond the national borders" is unacceptable.

The Moldovan government later overruled Dodon's decision.

The dispute has underscored divisions in Moldova, where Dodon is frequently at odds on foreign policy with a government that favors closer ties with the European Union and the United States.

Moldova military left for NATO Rapid Trident 2017 exercise despite their presidents ban 01

Moldova military left for NATO Rapid Trident 2017 exercise despite their presidents ban 02

Moldova military left for NATO Rapid Trident 2017 exercise despite their presidents ban 03

Moldova military left for NATO Rapid Trident 2017 exercise despite their presidents ban 04
Photos by Moldova's Defense Ministry

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The Rapid Trident exercises, held in western Ukraine near the Polish border, are aimed to foster improved interoperability among forces of countries in NATO and its Partnership for Peace program.

The countries participating are Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Italy, Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Russia and Belarus are holding their own military drills, Zapad 2017, on Sept. 14-20 in Belarus and parts of western Russia.

 
 
 
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