Russia is quietly walking away from commitments made at last November’s summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. At that meeting, Russia agreed to reduce its military presence in Moldova and Georgia. In both countries, Russian forces encourage separatist movements and threaten national sovereignty and territorial integrity

In Moldova, ethnic Russians have established a breakaway government of sorts in Transdniester, on the eastern side of the Dniester river that divides the country. Russian troops, which were to have left Moldova by 1994, are still present in Transdniester, working closely with the separatists. At the OSCE meeting, Russia agreed to remove its military arsenals from Transdniester by 2001 and to withdraw its troops to Russia by 2002, unconditionally and under international observation. But the Russian foreign ministry now says withdrawal cannot begin unless Transdniester–which is unrecognized and so had no representation at the OSCE meeting–is agreeable.

In Georgia, Russia agreed to close two of its four bases by July 1, 2001, and to negotiate the disposition of the others. Russia’s Foreign Ministry now wants permanent rights at the latter before it will quit the former. At one of the bases to be closed, the air base at Vaziani, Georgian security services recently videotaped a clandestine arms sale by Russian soldiers to unidentified buyers, possibly Chechens. The other base slated for closure, Gudauta, is located in the breakaway province of Abkhazia.