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Moldova wants Russian troops out of Transnistria — top diplomat

According to Nicolae Popescu, it creates "favorable conditions for an exclusively peaceful settlement of the Transnistrian conflict"

KISHINEV, November 30. /TASS/. The Moldovan delegation at the annual ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Skopje will ask Russia to withdraw its troops from Transnistria, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Nicolae Popescu said.

"I confirmed the need for the unconditional withdrawal of Russian Federation troops from our territory, to thus create favorable conditions for an exclusively peaceful settlement of the Transnistrian conflict," Popescu wrote on his Telegram channel.

Earlier, he said he would hold several bilateral meetings with EU counterparts ahead of the European Council vote to ensure full support for the next stages of Moldova's accession to the EU.

Russian peacekeepers were introduced into the Transnistrian conflict zone after signing an agreement with Moldova on July 21, 1992, on a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Transnistria. This made it possible to stop hostilities between Moldovan police and Transnistrian militia. Today, they maintain peace on the Dniester River, along with peacekeepers from Moldova and Transnistria.

Besides, there is an about 1,000-strong Operational Group of Russian forces in the region, tasked with ensuring the security of depots in Cobasna that hold more than 20,000 tons of munitions that were put in storage there after the withdrawal of Soviet troops from European countries. A campaign to liquidate stores of weapons and munitions started in 2001, but in 2004 the Transnistrian authorities cut it short following a deterioration in relations with Moldova.

Meanwhile, Chisinau insists on the withdrawal of the Russian group of forces and calls for replacing the peacekeepers with a civilian mission under an international mandate. However, Tiraspol rejects this, citing what happened in 1992, when such a mission failed to prevent an armed conflict, as more than 1,000 lives were lost and tens of thousands were wounded.