On Thursday Moldova and Transdniestria will start the second stage of simultaneous withdrawal of their armoured vehicles from the safety zone, Russian co-chairman of the United Control Committee Oleg Astakhov announced. Transdniestria is a territory on the left bank of the Dniestr River with mainly Russian-speaking population, which in the early 1990s virtually withdrew from the Moldovan state.
Within two days the peacekeeping forces of Moldova and Transdniestria will simultaneously leave 23 and 11 armoured vehicles respectively.
The decision was made at the United Committee's session on August 5, 2003.
The armoured vehicles' withdrawal from the safety zone will be observed by the committee's experts, representatives of the military commandment and the OSCE mission to Moldova.
After the Moldovan and Transdniestrian units are withdrawn, there will be only 17 Russian armoured personnel vehicles left in the safety zone to reinforce the posts and checkpoints.
The military units of Russian peacekeepers are to leave the region by the end of the year provided stability is preserved on the entire territory of the peacekeeping operation, the committee reported.
The withdrawal of armoured vehicles from the Dniestr safety zone has been discussed since 1994. The OSCE mission to Moldova believes that this will make it possible to increase mutual trust and give a new impulse to improving relations between Moldova and Transdniestria.
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