MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Friday that Moldova's potential accession to the European Union was a sovereign matter for the former Soviet republic, but said there were many Moldovans who also wanted to see close ties to Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was commenting after Moldovan President Maia Sandu - who is seeking to extricate her country from Moscow's orbit - signed a decree on the start of accession talks with the bloc which are formally meant to begin on June 25.

EU ambassadors agreed earlier this month to formally start negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. Such talks usually take years to conclude.

"...This is not a quick process, it is a sovereign matter for each state, including Moldova," said Peskov, when asked by reporters about the matter.

But he said Moldova had opportunities to develop in other directions at the same time and accused the country's political leadership of mistakenly excluding such options.

"We know that many people in this country believe that the country should develop in all directions, and that the future interests of the country cannot be connected only with the European Union, but with such promising markets as the Russian Federation, as well as with integration processes on the territory of the former Soviet Union," said Peskov.

Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has a Romanian-speaking majority and a substantial Russian-speaking minority, and its politics have oscillated between pro-Western and pro-Russian parties for decades.

Russian troops are garrisoned in Transdniestria, a pro-Russian separatist region that broke away in a brief war in the early 1990s.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Andrew Osborn)