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Moldova’s president criticizes UN resolution on Russian troops’ pullout from Transnistria

Dodon praised the peacekeeping mission and its effectiveness spanning many years
Moldovan President Igor Dodon Valery Sharifulin/TASS
Moldovan President Igor Dodon
© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

CHISINAU, July 15. /TASS/. The resolution on withdrawal of the Russian military mission from Transnistria, which had been drafted by Moldova’s pro-European government and was later passed by the UN General Assembly, is counterproductive, Moldovan President Igor Dodon wrote on his Facebook page after the talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on Saturday.

"I have assessed the anti-Russian declarations which in recent weeks were adopted at different international floors and are related to the role of peacekeeping process in the Republic of Moldova," Dodon wrote. "As the head of state, I noticed their absolutely politicized nature, which runs counter to the real situation in the Republic of Moldova."

According to the president, "one-sided statements heard from high rostrums have nothing to do with the state of affairs concerning the peacekeeping operation in Moldova and are nothing but an intra-political fight and positioning in the context of the coming parliamentary election in Moldova."

Dodon praised the peacekeeping mission and its effectiveness spanning many years.

"The peacekeeping operation has positive influence on the restart of 5+2 dialogue, seeking the soonest comprehensive political solution to the Transnistria conflict," he said.


Russian peacekeeping mission in Transnistria

Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the conflict zone on July 29, 1992, under an agreement on principles of a peace solution to hostilities in the Transnistrian region of Moldova that the presidents of Russia and Moldova signed in presence of Transnistria’s leader on July 21, 1992. Currently, Russian peacekeepers are ensuring peace in the security zone disengaging the sides, alongside peacekeepers from Moldova and Transnistria and a group of military observers from Ukraine.

Transnistria also hosts the Operation Group of Russian Forces that helps conduct peacekeeping operations and guards ammunition depots near the village of Colbasna. Over 20,000 tonnes of ammunition have been stored in the depots since they were delivered there when the Soviet Army was pulling out from European countries. Moldova demands that the weapons be withdrawn, but their recycling and removal, starting in 2001, was blocked by Tiraspol in 2004 after relations between the two sides of the Dniester River became strained.

Presently, the Russian peacekeepers have actually found themselves in a siege after Ukraine blocked their supplies routes via its territory. Tiraspol stands against the withdrawal of the Russian military group, which the unrecognized republic view as peace guarantors.


UN resolution

On June 22, the United Nations General Assembly passed a draft resolution urging immediate and complete withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Transnistria. The draft was passed by a simple majority of votes, with 64 nations saying yes, 15 saying no, and 83 abstaining. The draft was initiated by Moldova, jointly with Georgia, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Ukraine, and Estonia.

The document calls on the United Nations General Assembly to put the issue of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Moldova on a preliminary agenda of its 73rd session. The draft demands Russia completely withdraw its forces from that country. The Russian side suggested the voting be postponed to have more time to discuss the draft in more detail but its initiative was turned down.

First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky expressed regret that "in conditions of evident loss of consensus the course towards further frustration of the Assembly’s unity has won the upper hand." "Once again, we reiterate that Russia is committed to the strict implementation of the mandate and tasks of the joint peacekeeping operation in Transnistria. Regrettably, so far there are no actual grounds to change the format of this operation," he stressed.

"We are committed to the process of political settlement of the Transnistrian problem," Polyansky said. "But the steps taken by Chisinau are destructive as they run counter to Moldova’s proclaimed policy towards the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict and contravene international agreements."


History of conflict

Transnistria, 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, tensions erupted into a bloody armed conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of people on both sides.

The fratricidal war was stopped after a peace agreement was signed in Moscow in 1992 and Russian peacekeepers were brought into the conflict area. Negotiations on the conflict’s peace settlement known as the 5+2 format talks (involving Moldova and Transnistria as parties to the conflict, Russia, Ukraine and the European security watchdog OSCE as mediators and the United States and the European Union as observers) started after that.