Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 83

Without an official notice, Moscow has canceled the Russian-Ukrainian-Moldovan summit scheduled for April 29-30 in Kyiv. Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi were to have been joined at the summit by representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and by Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov. They were to discuss the terms of a political solution of the Transdniester conflict and the withdrawal of Russian arsenals and troops from that Moldovan region. The summit was to have capped Primakov’s official visit to the Ukrainian capital in a bilateral context. That visit has been aborted as well.

The Ukrainian and Moldovan governments learned from the Russian media on April 27 that Primakov was suffering from a bout of radiculitis and had therefore–with the agreement of President Boris Yeltsin–decided to postpone the visit and the summit. His illness did not prevent Primakov from chairing in a jovial disposition–as shown live on Russian television–the Russian government’s session yesterday.

A significant concatenation of events preceded the Kyiv summit’s cancellation. Last week, Russia’s then First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov visited Chisinau and consented to the evacuation of twelve trainloads of Russian military equipment from Transdniester to Russia “in the near future.” Gustov then went to Tiraspol to discuss the decision with Transdniester leaders. Smirnov, however, refused to receive Gustov. The Tiraspol authorities publicly threatened to prevent the evacuation of the twelve trainloads, reaffirmed their theoretical claim–as yet unenforced–to ownership of Russian arsenals in Transdniester and criticized Gustov for having dealt with Chisinau directly, bypassing Tiraspol. Smirnov then announced that he would not attend the Kyiv summit.

Gustov was dismissed from the Russian government for no apparent reason on April 27. Moldovan government officials trace that move to the influence of hardline elements in the Russian government which protect the Transdniester authorities. The latter have repeatedly prevailed in similar situations during the last few years.

This is the third time that Primakov has aborted the planned summit in Kyiv. It was originally scheduled to be held last November, was deferred for February and then for April 8-9 (at the first onslaught of Primakov’s illness), and has now been postponed sine die (Flux, Basapress, DINAU, Itar-Tass, Russian TV, April 27-28; Monitor, November 12, 25, 1998; February 24, 1999).