NATO allies vow to back Moldova, Georgia, and Bosnia

  • Bosnia Herzegovina Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic, left, and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg attend the meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

BUCHAREST — Apart from Ukraine, Moldova has been hit hardest by Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, the Moldovan foreign minister said Wednesday, as NATO offered fresh support to three countries shaken by the effects of Moscow’s 10-month-old war.

Nicu Popescu told The Associated Press in an interview in Romania’s capital that “we want to be expanding our cooperation with partners who support Moldova … that includes the European Union (and) NATO.”

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That support for Moldova — as well as Georgia and Bosnia — came from NATO allies also on Wednesday when the three countries’ foreign ministers met with their NATO counterparts to discuss how the world’s biggest security organization could help them in the face of political, energy and territorial uncertainty precipitated by the war.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after talks that the allies discussed shared security concerns with the three countries which he said are facing Russian pressure. Stoltenberg said alliance members agreed to help train and improve the three nations’ security and defense institutions.

“If there is one lesson learned from Ukraine it’s that we need to support them now … when we have seen developments going in the absolutely wrong direction as we saw with the invasion of Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said at the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has had a particularly troubling effect on Moldova, Ukraine’s neighbor, which is currently facing a severe energy crisis due to its reliance on Russian imports.

In recent weeks it has suffered massive power outages as a result of Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy grid. Moldova’s Soviet-era energy systems remain interconnected with Ukraine, which is why the Russian missile barrage caused the lights to go out.

Russian missiles have also traversed Moldova’s skies, missile debris has landed on its soil, and in April blasts occurred in the country’s Russian-backed breakaway region of Transnistria — where Moscow bases around 1,500 troops.

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