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Moldova asks NATO for help in withdrawing Russian troops from Tiraspol

"We constantly hear Moldovan officials speaking of the need to withdraw the Russian army and disband the peacekeeping operation", the co-chairman of Transdniestrian JCC said

TIRASPOL, July 14 /TASS/. Moldova’s Defense Minister Anatoly Salary has asked NATO for help in withdrawing Russian peacekeeping troops from Moldova’s unrecognized Republic of Transdniestria, Oleg Belyakov, the co-chairman of the Joint Control Commission for regulating the peacekeeping operation in Transdniestria, told journalists on Thursday.

"We constantly hear Moldovan officials speaking of the need to withdraw the Russian army [from Transdniestria] and disband the peacekeeping operation. The last call has recently come from Defense Minister Salaru. This is a source of our great concern because the peacekeepers’ pullout will return things to the 1992 conflict when law enforcers from Transdniestria and Moldova stood one against the other ready to start military hostilities. Such calls reflect a desire to resolve the Transdniestria problem exclusively by force what must be prevented," Belyakov said.

He said he was concerned that the work of the Joint Control Commission was muddling through because of the Moldovan delegation’s non-constructive approach. "Today, it is clear that the Moldovan delegation is not in a position to make any decisions. They are intentionally creating difficulties to make the Joint Control Commission muddle through. It seems to me that all these things are links in one chain," Belyakov said.

Russia sent its peacekeepers to Transdniestria in 1992, when a conflict erupted in Moldova, to stop the fratricidal war, which claimed more than a thousand human lives and turned tens of thousands of people into refugees. Transdniestria 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.

The Russian peacekeepers in Transdniestria maintain peace in the region as part of a joint peacekeeping force together with 492 Transdniestrian troopers and 355 Moldovan servicemen and 10 military observers from Ukraine. Moldova and Transdniestria are holding talks for settling the conflict in a "5 plus 2" format (Transdniestria, Moldova, Russia, the OSCE, Ukraine and observers from Russia and the European Union).

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.