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Moldova’s government places borders on alert over unrest in neighbouring Ukraine

Pro-Russian gunmen atop armoured personal carriers passing by barricades on a road leading into Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Monday, May 5, 2014.
Pro-Russian gunmen atop armoured personal carriers passing by barricades on a road leading into Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Monday, May 5, 2014. AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

CHISINAU, Moldova – Moldova’s government placed the landlocked country’s borders on alert Monday, citing concerns about a deteriorating security situation and escalating violence in neighbouring Ukraine.

Top Moldovan leaders announced the move in a joint statement after Ukrainian forces deployed an elite unit to the port of Odesa and fighting between government troops and a pro-Russia militia in eastern Ukraine killed combatants on both sides.

READ MORE: Fighting in east Ukraine kills 4 troops, wounds 30

President Nicolae Timofti, Prime Minister Iurie Leanca and Parliament speaker Igor Coreman said in the statement that security forces had been ordered “to take all necessary actions to ensure public order inside the country.”

They made no reference to any specific threat, but “expressed their concern about the deterioration of the security climate in the region following the escalation of violence in Ukraine,” it said, affirming Moldova’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

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Mouldova has 1,500 Russian troops stationed in a separatist republic of Trans-Dniester, which recently asked to be united with Russia.

Russia has said it respects Moldova’s territorial integrity in the past but leaders are concerned about unrest in Trans-Dniester. Moldova has a 1,220 kilometre border with Ukraine, which is mostly controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

READ MORE: Police free 67 activists after pro-Russian crowd storms police HQ in Odesa

Earlier Monday, British Foreign Minister William Hague held talks with Moldovan authorities, and said the former Soviet republic should move forward with talks toward closer ties to the European Union without being seen as a threat to Russia.

Hague says Britain is “strongly opposed to any external pressure or any violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

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