Russia may seek to put off deadline for its military property pullout from Transdniestria

Russia may ask the OSCE to put off the deadline for the withdrawal of its military property from Transdniestria, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov told Russian journalists accompanying him during his visit to Canada.

"If we fail to observe the set time limits, and this is possible, we will raise this question in the OSCE", the Minister said.

Russia must finish withdrawing its military property from Transdniestria before the end of 2003. According to Ivanov, the Russian side is prepared to withdraw hardware and other military property within the set time limits, "but to fulfil this task political will of those who must literally raise the barrier and give the green light is needed".

Ivanov recalled that "the base in Transdniestria which we inherited from Soviet times is the largest in Europe". "A huge amount of arms, hardware, uniform, etc. was concentrated there, and it is necessary to take all this away. In the past three years we honestly tried to do so but every time after the passage of a another echelon, new demands were forwarded, concrete blocks were put onto the rails, and the fulfillment of our intentions was hampered in every way. In the first half of this year, there was a period when we managed to push more than ten echelons through, but now everything is in a deadlock again", Ivanov said. "The cause is perfectly clear - Tiraspol (the capital of Transdniestria is unwilling to let this be done. You understand that we will not apply any force. There are OSCE observers in Transdniestria who are witness to all this".

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