Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 32

In talks with President Petru Lucinschi and other Moldovan leaders in Chisinau, Russian Defense Council secretary Yuri Baturin held out the prospect of a numerical reduction of the Russian troops in Moldova by next autumn, subject to Moldovan contributions to housing construction in Russia for the relocated servicemen. However, Baturin insisted that the withdrawal of the Operational Group of Russian Forces is to be "synchronized" with the resolution of the Transdniester’s problem — a question, essentially, of defining the region’s status. Baturin declined to name a timetable for any withdrawal. At the same time he did not raise the question of basing rights for the Russian troops in Moldova, and expressed confidence that Moldova will not seek to join NATO. Lucinschi insisted on the implementation of the 1994 bilateral agreement on the troops’ withdrawal, yet to be honored by the Russian side.

Baturin’s prescheduled visit bore no relation to NATO secretary general Javier Solana’s February 10-11 visit to Moldova. However, reacting to Lucinschi’s solicitation of NATO security guarantees for neutral countries including Moldova, Baturin stated that Russia must in any case be a co-guarantor. (Basapress, Flux, February 12-13. See Monitor, February 12) One of Moscow’s ways of nullifying the 1994 agreement is to insist on "synchronizing" the withdrawal of the troops with the final political settlement of the Transdniester question, while at the same time encouraging Transdniester to block progress toward a settlement.

Stalement Continues in Tajikistan.