In an article he contributed to the official newspaper Nezavisimaya Moldova, Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s special envoy, Vladimir Kitayev, writes that the 1990 Russian-Moldovan framework treaty on bilateral relations can be ratified only in a package with a February 1995 "supplementary protocol," which envisages joint measures to defend regional security. In his article Kitayev urges the Moldovan parliament to ratify that protocol. He further maintains that Russia’s ex-14th Army in Moldova "guarantees regional peace and security," and that any steps toward a troop withdrawal must "clearly be synchronized with the political settlement of the Transdniester conflict." Kitayev describes the 1994 Russian-Moldovan agreement to withdraw the troops as "the legal basis for the presence of our troops in Moldova." (Nezavisimaya Moldova, January 10)
Kitayev represents Moscow in the negotiations on the Transdniester conflict. The February 1995 protocol envisages Russian-Moldovan consultations on joint measures to repel threats to regional security if either side considers that such a threat has arisen. President Mircea Snegur was pressured into signing that protocol with Yeltsin and forwarding it for ratification to the Moldovan parliament, which demurred. Moscow has since demanded Moldovan ratification of that protocol as a condition for Russian ratification of a somewhat updated version of the 1990 Yeltsin-Snegur treaty. Chisinau overestimates the value of that treaty because it entails a Russian recognition of Moldova’s territorial integrity — something Moscow continually recognizes on paper even as it helps to perpetuate Transdniester’s secession. Coupled with the Russian military presence in Moldova, the supplementary protocol exposes Moldova to the risk of being drawn into conflicts on the Russian side, and also contravenes Moldova’s constitutionally-mandated neutrality.
The envoy’s untenable interpretation of the 1994 troop withdrawal agreement apparently derives from the document’s regulation of the presence of Russian troops in Moldova pending their withdrawal within three years. But the Russian government has since claimed that the agreement requires the ratification of the Russian parliament, and that the three-year term would start counting down only after ratification. The Kremlin knows that the Duma will never ratify the agreement.
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