Moldova’s Security Council yesterday resolved to reduce the army’s active manpower by 1,000 this year and suggested the possibility of further cuts. President Petru Lucinschi, who chaired the session, stated that Moldova needs to retain an army as long as Transdniester has its own. The Moldovan army’s authorized strength until now has been 10,000. It has not, however, as a rule been attained due to draft evasion and financial shortages. Troop cuts form part of a planned military reform whose chief priority is fund-saving.
In a related development the Defense Ministers of Moldova and Hungary, Valeriu Passat and Gyorgy Keleti, announced at a joint news conference in Chisinau yesterday the signing of a bilateral military agreement. The document envisions cooperation in multinational exercises under NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and Moldovan servicing of Soviet-era arms and equipment in the Hungarian inventory. (Infotag, March 3)
Moldova’s army is, overall, almost certainly inferior to Transdniester’s. Tiraspol’s army — with 7,000 to 8,000 active-duty personnel — is better trained than the government forces, includes a larger number of officers and NCOs, and has a larger pool of experienced reservists. The government army has no tanks and no combat helicopters, whereas Transdniester forces have both of those types of hardware, transferred from the Russian 14th Army’s arsenals. Neither side expects the other to attack, but Transdniester professes that expectation to justify the continued stationing of Russian forces in that part of Moldova.
An Abkhaz Shot Across Georgia’s Bow in the Black Sea.