Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 164

Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi’s September 1-2 official visit to Moscow has shown that the Kremlin remains unwilling to withdraw the Russian troops unlawfully stationed in Moldova. The Russian government, moreover, seeks to exploit the Transdniester problem in attempting to draw Moldova into a military pact with Russia. One of Lucinschi’s goals on this visit was to urge the adoption of a timetable for the removal of the Russian arsenals and troops from Moldova. He was, however, unable to make headway on this issue and implied that Moldova would put its case to international forums. Lucinschi publicly urged the Russian side to abandon the view that “Transdniester represents a [Russian] outpost near the Balkans”–“a nineteenth-century view on the threshold of the twenty-first century.”

This month, pursuant to resolutions of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russia is required to present a timetable for the undelayed, unconditional and orderly removal of those arsenals and troops under international observation. Moscow’s draft timetable, however, proposes to withdraw the arms stockpiles from Moldova no earlier than 2005, and to drag out the troop withdrawal for still longer. The OSCE and Moldova both accept the two-stage sequence. Moldova, however, finds the timeframe unreasonably and dangerously extended. The OSCE will probably sustain that objection–if the Western pre-Kosovo stand can serve as a guide to their post-Kosovo attitude on matters concerning Russia’s self-proclaimed geopolitical interests.

General Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces, attempted to change the agenda of the talks in proposing that Moldova legalize the Russian military presence and confer basing rights on the Russian troops. Moldova responded by citing the country’s constitution, which bans the stationing of foreign troops on its territory.

Russia’s civilian leadership hopes to use diplomatic instruments to prolong the troops’ presence in Moldova and even to create opportunities for reinforcing that presence. Following the talks in the Kremlin, President Boris Yeltsin instructed Russia’s Foreign Ministry to update the text of the Russian-Moldovan interstate treaty for parliamentary ratification by both countries. According to Sergei Prikhodko, deputy head of Russia’s presidential administration in charge of foreign policy, Yeltsin specifically ordered that the “1995 protocol” be included in the text of the updated treaty. That elliptical reference concerns a document signed by Yeltsin with Moldova’s former President Mircea Snegur under pressure in the Kremlin in February 1995. That document would require Moldova to consult with Russia on regional security issues and participate in joint actions against military threats, whenever “either side” considers such a threat to have arisen. Such an arrangement, if implemented, would end Moldova’s military neutrality and Western political orientation, could turn the country into an ally of Russia and would serve as a license for the open-ended stationing of Russian troops. All Moldovan leaders–including Snegur–have treated the 1995 document as null and void. But Russia makes the signing and ratification of an interstate treaty conditional on the incorporation of that protocol.

An interstate treaty had been signed by Yeltsin and Snegur back in 1990, when Russia and Moldova were still Soviet republics. The treaty explicitly enshrined Moldova’s territorial integrity. The Moldovan parliament ratified that treaty immediately, but Russia’s legislature never did. The Russian government now wants the 1995 protocol incorporated into any new treaty that would recognize Moldova’s integrity. Meanwhile, Moscow underwrites de facto Transdniester’s secession and is content to use that part of Moldova as a basing area for Russian troops (Flux, Basapress, Itar-Tass, September 2-3).

The Monitor is a publication of the Jamestown Foundation. It is researched and written under the direction of senior analysts Jonas Bernstein, Vladimir Socor, Stephen Foye, and analysts Ilya Malyakin, Oleg Varfolomeyev and Ilias Bogatyrev. If you have any questions regarding the content of the Monitor, please contact the foundation. If you would like information on subscribing to the Monitor, or have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us by e-mail at, by fax at 301-562-8021, or by postal mail at The Jamestown Foundation, 4516 43rd Street NW, Washington DC 20016. Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of the Monitor is strictly prohibited by law. Copyright (c) 1983-2002 The Jamestown Foundation Site Maintenance by Johnny Flash Productions