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Russian peacekeepers guarantee stability in Transdniestria — president

March 29, 21:57 UTC+3 TIRASPOL
At present, the Russian servicemen are guarding peace in the conflict zone alongside the blue helmets from Moldova and Transdniestria
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© ITAR-TASS/Sergey Karpov, file

TIRASPOL, March 29 /TASS/. Moldova’s unrecognized Republic of Transdniestria wants Russian peacekeepers to stay as guarantors of peace in the region, Transdniestria’s President Yevgeny Shevchuk has said.

"The Russian group of troops, which plays the key role in the peacekeeping operation on the Dniester River, guarantees peace and stability in Transdniestria," Shevchuk said after meeting Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin, who is on a visit to Transdniestria’s capital Tiraspol, on Tuesday.

He added that the republic’s population appreciated that contribution.

Karasin who visited the Russian peacekeepers’ barracks noted their high combat spirit.

"It is vitally important. It [the spirit] can be felt both in the Russian servicemen’s tone and their military bearing. They do not claim any special honors but, at the same time, they perform their military and civil duty in fully measure. All honors to them!" the Russian diplomat said.

Russia sent its peacekeepers to Transdniestria in 1992 during its conflict with Moldova to stop the fratricidal war, which claimed more than a thousand human lives and turned tens of thousands of people into refugees. Transdnietria has not seen a single outbreak of violence since the Russian peacekeepers arrived. That makes the peacekeeping operation in Transdniestria one of the most effective in Europe. At present, the Russian servicemen are guarding peace in the conflict zone alongside the blue helmets from Moldova and Transdniestria. A group of military observers from Ukraine also watches the peacekeeping operation.

Another task of the Russian peacekeepers is to guard ammunition depots near Kolbasna village. According to various estimates, more than 20,000 tonnes of arms were brought in there after the Soviet troops had withdrawn from Europe. Moldova insists on full withdrawal of Russian troops and arms from Transdniestria. It wants to transform the current peacekeeping operation into an international civil multi-ethnic mission. Ukraine supports the Moldovan government in Chisinau. The Ukrainian government has recently denounced an agreement with Russia that served as basis for supplying the Russian peacekeepers to Transdniestria.

Earlier, Shevchuk said that the Russian peacekeeping operation proceeded in difficult conditions. "It is a dividing force in extremely hot seats of tension, namely the city of Bendery and the Dubossary district where the military and law enforcers from Moldova and Transdniestria function simultaneously. The probability of a conflict there is extremely high. How can we match against them except for the peacekeepers? We have had the experience of civil observers. They vanished for good after the first shots had been fired in Bendery back in 1992," he said.

Shevchuk believes that Moldova’s first persons keep stressing the need to withdraw the Russian military from Transdniestria at the request of western countries.

Moscow to promote resumption of dialogue between Chisinau and Tiraspol 

Russia will take efforts to promote resumption of a constructive dialogue between Moldova and Transdniestria but the parties to it must refrain from any unilateral actions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said on Tuesday after a meeting with the leader of the unrecognized republic of Transdniestria Yevgeny Shevchuk.

"We are confident that direct dialogue between Chisinau and Tiraspol is needed. It is a key condition to move forward on the principles fixed in international agreements, on the principles of mutual respect and acknowledgement of the fact that this is a reciprocal process where any unilateral actions are impossible," he said.

Talks in the 5+2 format, involving Moldova and Transdniestria as parties to the conflict, the OSCE as a mediator, Russia and Ukraine as guarantors and the European Union and the United States as observers, have been stuck for the second year. Only two out of five scheduled meetings were held in 2014. Relations between Chisinau and Tiraspol chilled after the Transdniestrial leader accused Moldova and Ukraine of exerting coordinated pressure on the unrecognized republic through economic sanctions.

The parties, with the assistance of mediators, have recently reached an agreement to reset the negotiating process. However following several first meetings in March 2016 Moldovan and Transdniestrian representatives plunged into mutual accusations again.

Tiraspol insists on lifting restrictions on its foreign trade and transport communication Moldova imposed jointly with Ukraine. It also demands Moldova stop criminal prosecution of Transdniestrian officials, recognize Transdniestrian state documents and solve some other problems.

Chisinau expects concessions from Tiraspol on such issues as joint use of land, easing border crossing procedures, etc.

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