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Banning transit to Transdniestria for Russian military across Ukraine is unlikely to cause problems - experts

May 22, 2015, 15:44 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Sergey Karpov

MOSCOW, May 22. /TASS/. Kiev has banned for the Russian military in Transdniestria to use transit across Ukraine. This is rather a political and propagandistic initiative than a practical step, though anyway the Russian peacekeepers will face certain inconveniences, analysts say. Moldovan authorities, they say, are not likely to undertake similar measures.

Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on Thursday, May 21, denounced several agreements on military cooperation with Russia, including the agreement on transit of the Russian military to Transdniestria.

Transdniestria is a non-recognised country, which most territory is an autonomous part of Moldova. Transdniestria announced its independence from Moldova in 1991. The armed conflict stopped with interference of the Russian military, whose peacekeeping mission in the region still continues.

Transdniestria fears Moldova may adopt similar measures, and thus the Russian peacekeepers may be blocked fully.

"Certain problems may arise," member of the Russian State Duma’s defence committee Viktor Zavarzin told the Vzglyad daily. "As yet, I do not know, how we shall settle the issue, but I am convinced it will be settled. Theoretically, everything may be transported by air as yet."

Many analysts say consequences from Kiev’s decision should not be overestimated.

Realistically, all those agreements, including the agreement on transit, have not been working since last spring, Vedomosti quotes a source close to the Russian Defence Ministry.

"It only fixes the existing state of affairs: the decision of Ukraine’s parliament is purely political, propagandistic and does not cause major problems," chief editor of the Arsenal magazine Viktor Murakhovsky told TASS. In Transdniestria remains the Russian military contingent of about 1,000 people - mostly local residents having Russian citizenship. However, rotation of the officers is important: those living in Russia have to get on their own to the location of their service using civil aviation via Chisinau. As a rule, they do not face any obstacles. Any food supplies to the Russian contingent are made from local resources. The military have arms sufficient for the present tasks.

The recent decision cannot either affect the weapons left from the Soviet times, the expert said. They may be utilised fully only after a political settlement of the Transdniestria problem, which is not probable any time soon, he said. All the weapons terms have expired and the threat of explosions is doubtful.

Moldovans, the expert says, are not likely to follow suit, as the Russian contingent remains in Transdniestria under an agreement with OSCE. "But if it comes to a complete blockade, the Russian military air force will be able to make flights, say, to Bendery."

"No tragedy here, though certain problems do arise," Sergei Levrenov of the CIS countries Institute said. The decision may affect rotation of the staff, as besides the peacekeepers in Transdniestria remains a Russian military rapid-reaction grouping, which fulfils training functions.

However, neither Kiev, nor Chisinau will be able to push out the Russian peacekeepers. Chisinau is unlikely to blockade the transit as it is not interested in spoiling relations with Russia for economic reasons.

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