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CHISINAU, September 9. /TASS/. Moldova has condemned Russian peacekeepers’ drills that took place in August in unrecognized Transdniestria, Moldova’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.
"We express bewilderment with the provocative behavior of the Operational Group of Russian Troops illegally staying on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, which, despite insistent calls of the Moldovan authorities, keeps holding various military events," the statement said.
It said Moldova speaks for withdrawal of Russian troops and the start of talks on transformation of the current peacekeeping operation in Transdniestria into a civil mission under international mandate.
Russia’s peacekeepers were deployed to the zone of the Transdniestrian conflict in line with an agreement signed with Moldova "On principles of the peace settlement of the armed conflict in the Transdniestrian Region of the Republic of Moldova" of July 21, 1992. Today they maintain peace in the region jointly with the "blue helmets" of Moldova and Transdniestria.
The Russian military are also tasked with protection of military depots where over 20,000 metric tons of ammunition brought here after withdrawal of Soviet troops from European countries are kept.
Tiraspol does not support withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers.
"The Russian group of troops, which plays a key role in the peacekeeping operation on the Dniester, is a guarantee of peace and stability in Transdniestria," the unrecognized republic’s President Yevgeny Shevchuk said earlier.
Transdniestria, a largely Russian-speaking region, broke away from Moldova following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its relations with Moldova’s central government in Chisinau have been highly mixed and extremely tense at times ever since then. In 1992 and 1993, the tensions erupted into a bloody armed conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of people on both sides.