Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 87

Moldova’s Presidency and Foreign Ministry yesterday expressed concern over the fate of an agreement with Moscow to remove twelve trainloads of Russian military equipment from Moldova’s Transdniester region. The two parallel statements from Chisinau seem designed to hold Moscow to its obligation, against the background of evidence that the Russian side is not prepared to honor it. The agreement was wrapped up on April 20 in Chisinau by Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov. However, Transdniester’s leaders protested against the proposed move; Gustov was dismissed by Russian President Boris Yeltsin on April 27 without any real explanation; and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov scuttled–for the third time in the last six months–a summit meeting which had been rescheduled for April 30 in Kyiv. That summit was to have drawn up, inter alia, a schedule for the withdrawal of Russian weaponry and ammunition from Transdniester.

That problem has gained added urgency after Chisinau accepted the thesis that the removal of Russian arsenals must precede the removal of the troops. According to that logic, the remaining Russian troops in Transdniester must remain, pending the evacuation of the arsenals, to ensure that the materiel does not fall into the hands of the local secessionist leadership. This sequence presupposes that Russia is interested in evacuating its arsenals from Moldova. The record of the last seven years would seem to militate against this assumption, however. The unexplained dismissal of Gustov and the cancellation of the tripartite summit on a thin pretext are in line with that record (Flux, Basapress, May 4; see the Monitor, April 29).

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