CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova can no longer rely only on its neutral status and must ramp up its defensive military power, a security aide to pro-Western President Maia Sandu said on Monday.
The ex-Soviet nation, one of Europe's poorest countries, allocated just over 1 billion leu - or 0.45% of GDP - for defence spending this year.
It applied for European Union membership this year and strongly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but has Russian troops and peacekeepers based in its Transdniestria breakaway region and relies heavily on Russian energy.
"Moldova can no longer rely exclusively on foreign policy instruments, one of which is its neutral status, to ensure state stability," said Dorin Recean, the security aide.
"Moldova must start work on increasing its defence potential... The authorities need to obtain the conscious support of citizens who should understand it is critical to the state's survival," he said, calling for funds to be allocated for this task.
(Reporting by Alexander Tanas, Writing by Tom Balmforth, Editing by Timothy Heritage)