The OSCE’s Permanent Council adopted in Budapest yesterday a resolution expressing concern over lack of progress in implementing past OSCE decisions regarding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova and a political settlement of the Transdniester conflict. The Council "urged the Russian Federation to put into effect without delay" the 1994 Russian-Moldovan agreement and commence the "orderly and complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Moldova within the prescribed schedule." Greeting with approval the signing of a Russian-Ukrainian agreement on the transit of Russian military cargoes from Moldova to Russia via Ukraine, the Permanent Council reaffirmed the OSCE’s willingness to contribute to the withdrawal of the troops both politically and by monitoring its military aspects. (16)
This is the OSCE’s third consecutive year-end meeting which called for Russian withdrawal, to no effect thus far. Moscow now loses one argument against the withdrawal after Ukraine accepted the transit of massive and potentially dangerous Russian military cargoes through approximately 1,000 kilometers of Ukrainian territory back to Russia. But this agreement obligates Moscow far less than the flouted withdrawal agreement signed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin with his Moldovan counterpart Andrei Sangheli in 1994. President Boris Yeltsin and his government claim that the agreement with its three-year withdrawal schedule can take effect only if the Duma ratifies it–an inconceivable prospect after the Duma voted several times this year against the troop withdrawal and in favor of Transdniester’s secession from Moldova. Moreover Yeltsin, the Foreign Ministry, and the military are jointly asking Moldova to grant the Russian troops peacekeeping status and basing rights.
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