On July 30-31, Moldova announced deep cuts in its army and called for its remainder to be merged with Transdniester’s army in the framework of a political settlement of the conflict.
President Vladimir Voronin made public his decision to cut the army’s manpower from the current authorized strength of 10,000 to 7,000. In his July 31 news conference that closed the parliamentary session, Voronin indicated that the 7,000 figure would include both army troops and the “Carabinieri” internal affairs troops. On the same day, Defense Minister Victor Gaiciuc declared from the parliament’s rostrum that “the Moldovan army does not need artillery.” The parliament voted that same day to sell the army’s thirteen batteries of surface-to-surface rocket launchers.
The parliament voted, as well, to sell Moldova’s last remaining six interceptor aircraft. Those are part of an ex-Soviet regiment of some thirty-five MIG 29s, inherited by Moldova nine years ago. A few of those were sold in the Arab world during the mid-1990s, and twenty-one of them were sold to the United States in 1997 for US$40 million.
From 1991 to date, Moldova has not had a single battle tank. Russia’s 14th Army transferred all its tanks to territory controlled by Transdniester authorities, and loaned some of them to the Transdniester army. That army numbers 7,000 and is clearly superior to that of the legitimate government in terms of equipment and training. Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov yesterday rejected Chisinau’s proposals. He insists that retention of a separate Transdniester army is a sine qua non of a political settlement with Chisinau (Flux, Basapress, Infotag, July 30-31, August 1).
ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT SAYS NO TO “RECONCILIATION” WITH TURKEY.