Russian peacekeepers must stay in Transnistria until the conflict is settled, says incumbent President of Moldova Igor Dodon, the informal leader of the biggest in the country Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova.
"The peacekeeping operation on the Dniester has the international mandate, it involves not only Russians. There are also Moldovans there, as well as residents of Transnistria and Ukrainians," the outgoing president told Moldova 1 television on Tuesday.
"Owing to this mission there is no bloodshed. It must stay until a political solution to the Transnistrian conflict is found," Dodon stressed. Commenting on statements from President-elect Maia Sandu, Dodon pledged that he would not allow destabilization. "I strongly hope that there are no major geopolitical players behind these declarations, who manage this and pursue the aim to destabilize the situation in Moldova," he stressed.
At a news conference on Monday, Maia Sandu called for the withdrawal of Russian troops and ammunition from Transnistria and the deployment of an OSCE civilian monitoring mission in place of the Russian peacekeepers. The foreign minister of unrecognized Transnistria, Vitaly Ignatyev, castigated her statement on Tuesday, reiterating that the Russian peacekeepers helped the sides to cease fire back in 1992 and sit down to talk, TASS reports.
Moldova’s Transnistrian quagmire
The Transnistrian conflict erupted in March 1992, when initial clashes occurred between Moldovan police and Transnistrian militia near the city of Dubossary. They were followed by an outbreak of armed hostilities. By the summer, it had morphed into a large-scale conflict in Bendery, where about 1,000 people were killed and tens of thousands were wounded and ended up as refugees.
The civil war was brought to an end following a peace agreement signed in Moscow in July 1992 and Russian peacekeepers were brought into the conflict zone. Negotiations on peacefully settling the conflict known as the 5+2 format talks had started after that.