Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 153

Ukraine is "profoundly concerned" by lack of progress in settling the Transdniester conflict, according to a statement by Volodymyr Furkalo, a senior adviser to Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma and his plenipotentiary representative to Transdniester settlement negotiations. The statement criticized the Russian Duma’s recent resolution in favor of declaring Transdniester a zone of special Russian strategic interests. That resolution set back the negotiations and harmed the efforts toward a peaceful solution, Furkalo’s statement said. It called for the resumption of negotiations and for settling the conflict on the basis of Transdniester autonomy "within an integral and indivisible Moldova." (16)

Ukraine officially became a mediator in the Transdniester conflict earlier this year at the insistence of the OSCE and Moldova, which had sought to balance Russia’s influence as self-imposed mediator as well as party to the conflict. Kiev has been concerned by the prospect of a Russian strategic exclave emerging in Transdniester along the Ukrainian border, but has also appeared reluctant to add Transdniester to the list of disputed issues between Ukraine and Russia. Moscow’s actions in disregarding the troop withdrawal agreement with Moldova, keeping its troops in Transdniester, and condoning its secession may force Ukraine to defend its own interests in the region more assertively, which it is well placed to do. Furkalo’s statement seems to signal that. Two weeks ago Kiev agreed to allow transit of potentially dangerous Russian military cargoes from Transdniester back to Russia across Ukraine, depriving Russia of an argument against the troop withdrawal.

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