NATO's second-in-command in Europe says the alliance backs the territorial integrity of former Soviet republics Moldova and Ukraine

"We ... support the neutrality, independence and sovereignty of your country in the interests of the whole region," said Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, deputy supreme allied commander in Europe, during a visit Thursday to the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.

Former Soviet republic Moldova borders Romania and Ukraine and is not a NATO member.

Moldovan Defense Minister Viorel Cibotaru said the country was consolidating its relationship with the alliance.

Moldovan troops are currently participating in NATO "Wind Spring 15" exercises involving 2,200 NATO troops in neighboring Romania.

Moldova is concerned about instability generated by the pro-Russian breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester in eastern Moldova. The region, which is not internationally recognized, wants to join Russia.