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Moldovan president-elect seeks to resume talks with Russia on munitions disposal

Maia Sandu believes, that "the presence of these munitions on Moldova’s soil is very dangerous"

CHISINAU, December 8. /TASS/. Moldova’s President-Elect Maia Sandu is planning to resume talks with Russia on disposing munitions stored in the unrecognized Transnistria republic.

"I confirmed and reiterated the position of the Republic of Moldova, which has always remained so. The stance, which the Russian Federation repeated on this issue, is not new either. <…> The views of the Republic of Moldova and Russia differ. In this situation we should try to continue dialogue," Sandu said in an interview with PRO TV channel, commenting on exchanging views with Russian officials on a peacekeeping operation in the Dniestr after her election win.

"I believe there are chances to find a solution since last year when I led the government we launched dialogue [with Russia] on the munitions disposal," she noted, stressing that "the presence of these munitions on Moldova’s soil is very dangerous."

At the meeting in August last year with Moldova’s President Igor Dodon Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu offered to launch an effort on disposing munitions in Cobasna, northern Transnistria. In his statements at the United Nations and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Dodon welcomed this initiative, which is likely to boost talks on the settlement in Transnistria. The United States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe showed interest in the munitions disposal, offering Chisinau an expert-level assistance.

The Operational Group of Russian Forces in Transnistria (OGRF), consisting of nearly 1,000 soldiers and officers, was deployed to Transnistria. The military task force is engaged in a peacekeeping operation and is safeguarding depots in Cobasna.

Munitions depots in Cobasna are holding about than 20,000 tons of weapons and munitions that were stored there after the withdrawal of Soviet troops from European soil. An effort on evacuating and disposing munitions from Cobasna began in 2003, however the process was stonewalled by Transnistria’s authorities in 2004 after ties with Moldova deteriorated. Transnistrian leader Vadim Krasnoselsky announced that the unrecognized republic was against withdrawing a Russian military task force but backed the idea of disposing munitions. However, he said these issues could be discussed only with Russia.