Transdniester president Igor Smirnov and other leaders announced at news conferences on June 25 that a Ukrainian peacekeeping company and a group of Ukrainian military monitors are shortly to be introduced in the security zone that separates Moldovan government troops from those of Transdniester. The Ukrainians will take up positions in Dubasari district on two Dniester river bridges and in the vicinity of some arms and ammunition depots there that belong to Russian forces stationed in Transdniester. The Ukrainians will not replace, but will supplement Russian "peacekeeping" troops in the area. Kyiv’s company and monitoring group are to be subordinate to the joint Russian-Moldovan-Transdniester armistice control commission, which supervises the three sides’ troops in the security zone and will now become a quadripartite body. (Russian agencies, Segodnya, June 25-26)
The two bridges, bitterly fought for in the 1992 war, are crucial to communication between the rival banks of the Dniester, as well as to Moldova’s own overland communication with Ukraine. Transdniester recently conditioned the bridges’ reopening on the deployment of Ukrainian peacekeepers, after Russian troops were sharply cut back. The Ukrainians will also keep an eye on the poorly guarded Russian arms depots in that area.
Smirnov discussed the deployment with Ukrainian leaders in Kyiv last week. The visit had been cleared in advance by Chisinau, which is interested in seeing Ukraine exercise a certain political and military role counterbalancing that of Russia in Transdniester, though within limits compatible with Moldova’s de jure sovereignty. (See Monitor, June 23) Russian president Boris Yeltsin consented to the deployment at a May 8 quadripartite meeting in the Kremlin. (See Monitor, May 8 and 9) Russia’s own "peacekeeping" troops in Transdniester — which are distinct from the former 14th Army and answer to the joint armistice control commission–are down to only two battalions from the original six. For economic reasons, the ex-14th Army has also been substantially reduced.
Fresh Repressive Measures in Belarus.