Romania's prime minister has given Moldova 100 million euros ($117 million) in financial aid in a gesture of support for the former Soviet republic's EU membership bid.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta called for a Romanian gas pipeline to be extended to Chisinau, the Moldovan capital. Moldova relies on Russia for most of its gas.

Ponta was in Chisinau Thursday to mark Moldova's 24th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union. Since independence, Moldova has been torn between Russia and the West.

U.S. President Barack Obama sent a congratulatory message to Moldova, saying its best security guarantee was closer ties to Europe. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of developing relations "in the spirit of friendship." Moldova signed an association agreement with the EU last year, which Russia opposed.