Russia’s defense minister General Pavel Grachev said in an interview on Russian TV that he would ask the Duma and the government to confer peacekeeping functions on Russia’s troops in Moldova (the former 14th Army). Russia would in that case withdraw its last remaining two "peacekeeping" battalions from Moldova. (14)
Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov, returning to Tiraspol from Moscow, told his Supreme Soviet that Russia’s Defense Ministry supports Transdniester on the need to maintain Russian troops there. (15)
Grachev spoke on the first anniversary of the long-dead agreement which provided for the withdrawal of the 14th Army. Russian "peacekeeping" troops, initially six battalions but now down to two, have been in Moldova since 1992. Neither the former 14th Army nor the forces which succeeded it bore a peacekeeping label. Both before and since the 1994 troop withdrawal agreement, Moscow has tried to pressure Chisinau into conferring that mandate in order to legalize its continued presence. Moscow has also periodically alluded to the withdrawal of its dwindling "peacekeeping" battalions in order to pressure Chisinau into transferring that title to the ex-14th Army.
Belarusian Diaspora Angry About Western Credits