Speaking on Moldovan radio January 24, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Krylov confirmed that president Boris Yeltsin had tasked him to secure Duma ratification of the updated and expanded Russian-Moldovan interstate treaty. The original treaty was signed in September 1990 by Yeltsin and Moldovan president Mircea Snegur, but ratified only by Moldova. A supplementary protocol to the treaty was then signed by the two presidents in February 1995. That protocol provides for immediate bilateral consultations between Russia and Moldova and "coordinated actions, including mutual assistance to repel aggression" if either country considers its security interests or overall "peace" threatened. Snegur has apparently been advised that the protocol represents the price of Russian ratification of the 1990 treaty, updated with clauses that formally recognize Moldova’s independence and territorial integrity.
In a January 22 communique, Moldova’s Foreign Ministry responded to opposition criticism that erroneously described the February 1995 protocol as being similar to provisions of Moldovan treaties with France and Bulgaria. Unlike the president, Moldova’s parliamentary leadership has strong misgivings about the supplementary protocol and prefers to discuss it only after Russia ratifies agreements on the withdrawal of its troops from Moldova. Moscow, however, shows no intention of resurrecting that treaty, signed in October 1994 by Prime Ministers Viktor Chernomyrdin and Andrei Sangheli and also ratified only by Moldova.
In another move aimed at keeping Russian troops in Moldova, the Russian government this week renewed proposals to confer a "peacekeeping" mandate on its Operational Group of Forces — formerly the Russian 14th Army. Russian deputy foreign minister Krylov also spoke in favor of the mandate in his statement on Moldovan radio. (14) Moldova argues that conferring a peacekeeping mandate on the ex-14th Army would amount to granting Russia basing rights and violate Moldova’s neutrality. As the government has failed to refute the February 1995 protocol, the parliament has been left to lead resistance to the supplementary agreement. Snegur’s perceived need for Russian acquiescence to his reelection this year complicates Chisinau’s position.