British weapons supplies to Moldova will drag the country into Russia's war in Ukraine and turn its population into "cannon fodder", the leader of the main Moldovan opposition party has said.
The comments by Igor Dodon, head of the pro-Russian Socialist party, came the day after Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, told the Telegraph that Britain wants to arm the former Soviet nation to "Nato standard" to improve its security against an aggressive Russia.
"We don't need Nato!" Mr Dodon said on his Telegram social media channel. "Military 'aid' from Nato may turn out to be a notorious disservice that will only make us worse, bring grief to our country and turn our soldiers and our people into cannon fodder."
Mr Dodon was president of Moldova between 2016 and 2020, when he lost an election to the pro-EU Maia Sandu.
The Moldovan government has not commented on the weapons supplies, but speculation is rising that a deal is imminent.
A team of British diplomats flew into the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, this week and Ms Truss met her counterpart, Nicu Popescu, on the sidelines of a Council of Europe meeting in Turin on Friday.
Moldova's constitution enshrines its neutrality and any shift towards Nato and the West will infuriate the Kremlin.
It has not commented on British plans to arm Moldova, which lies between Romania and Ukraine, but it has previously warned that it plans to bring its war to Moldova's border to link up with the pro-Russia breakaway region of Transnistria.
A Russian analyst said that British weapons would escalate tension between Moldova and Transnistria, which hosts a detachment of Russian soldiers.
"Even Chisinau's readiness to consider a military evolution of the Moldovan-Tranistria conflict makes it difficult to find any mechanisms to limit escalation," said Dmitry Danilov, a European security professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences.