The Russian ambassador in Chisinau, Aleksandr Papkin, considers that the OSCE’s year-end resolution on Moldova permits Russia to maintain an open-ended military presence in that country. According to Papkin, speaking in a local press interview, the OSCE meeting last week agreed that Russian “peacekeeping” troops are playing a positive role in Transdniester, and that the Russian forces can only withdraw after the removal of Russian arsenals to Russia (“just as we’ve been saying,” Papkin commented). The resolution, in Papkin’s view, “allows the United States to focus on the primary task–the political settlement of the Transdniester conflict…. The status of Transdniester and the mechanism of guaranteeing it must be established first, and the other issues resolved afterward” (Basapress, December 7).
The statement suggests that the Russian side feels free, as before, to prolong the negotiations and the stay of its troops in Moldova. Sitting on an immense arsenal in Transdniester, the Russian military blackmails Chisinau by suggesting that the secessionist authorities in Tiraspol would seize that arsenal if the Russian troops were to go home. The Russian government and military command are in no hurry to repatriate or scrap that arsenal, despite Moldova’s and the OSCE’s demands that this be done. Moreover, Papkin implies that Moscow will, as before, demand that Transdniester’s status be codified prior to the Russian military withdrawal. Moscow’s insistence on this sequence has frozen the situation since 1992. It encourages Tiraspol to demand virtual secession, unacceptable to Chisinau, and enables Moscow to cite the political impasse as a pretext for keeping the Russian troops in place.
SWISS INVESTIGATOR OF LAZARENKO CASE ARRIVES IN UKRAINE.