Russian peacekeepers in the region will remain even if Chisinau withdraws from the 1992 cease-fire agreement with Moscow, under which they are tasked to observe the regional status quo, said the foreign minister of Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria.
“We have already observed some initiatives sent to the Parliament of Moldova, to its government on the need to withdraw from the 1992 Agreement, which marked the beginning of the peacekeeping operation,” Vitaly Ignatiev claimed in an interview with Izvestia newspaper late Monday.
Ignatiev said, in reaction to Moldova’s alleged actions, that their only option is “to continue to ensure peace and security on the banks of the Dniester within the framework of the structures that already exist.”
“Even if Moldova tries to withdraw, we believe that this will not be a reason to curtail the peacekeeping operation. It must be preserved in any case, because a significant number of civilians live here – half a million of the population of Transnistria, including citizens of the Russian Federation, of which there are almost 250,000,” Ignatiev further said.
He also said all these people require protection, further claiming that they are “under pressure from outside,” which necessitates the use of “all political and diplomatic tools in order to protect peace and security on the Dniester and in Transnistria in particular.”
He said authorities in Transnistria have sent “about seven” official appeals to Chisinau since the election of Moldovan President Maia Sandu in order to initiate dialogue on the settlement of the conflict, but they have not received a response on the matter.
He added that Moldova’s plan to develop the country’s armed forces implies a transition to a professional army, and that the receipt of NATO weapons is a “security threat” to Transnistria, because “Moldova is a party to the conflict, and it has not been resolved.”
Transnistria is an unrecognized breakaway region internationally recognized as part of Moldova but is currently controlled by pro-Russian separatists following a two-year conflict between 1990 and 1992.
A cease-fire agreement was signed in July 1992 between Chisinau and Moscow following the conflict, which installed a peacekeeping force in the region made up of Russian, Moldovan and Transnistrian forces tasked with observing the cease-fire and other security arrangements.