The Russian edition addressed Vadim Krasnoselsky with a request to comment on the recent statements of Maya Sandu. The PMR President answered the questions of the journalist of Parlamentskaya Gazeta.
- Vadim Nikolaevich, how seriously are the words of Maya Sandu taken in Tiraspol?
- As you know, the Russian military has been an integral part of the security system of the entire regional space for several centuries. The current peacekeeping mission of Russia on the banks of the Dniester is no exception, which counts 28 years of effective implementation of the main task of maintaining peace and stability.
The Operational Group of Russian Forces is located in Pridnestrovie on legitimate basis, in full accordance with the results of the referendum held in Pridnestrovie on March 26, 1995, when over 90% of those who voted spoke in favor of maintaining the Russian military presence.
The Operational Group of Russian Forces carries out a double task: it ensures the rotation of the peacekeeping contingent of Russia and provides reliable protection of ammunition depots inherited from the 14th Guards Combined Arms Army of the USSR and Russia, stationed in Pridnestrovie since the middle of the 20th century.
I would like to emphasize that Pridnestrovie does not separate the Operational Group of Russian Forces from the Russian peacekeeping contingent. These are directly related components. Russian servicemen from the Operational Group of Russian Forces serve in the peacekeeping contingent on a rotational basis. These are the Russian soldiers who protect peace and tranquility. Every representative of Moldova in the trilateral peacekeeping operation is well aware of this.
Thus, the statements of the Moldovan representatives of different ranks about the Group of Russian Forces are politicized. Thus, Chisinau is trying to shift the focus from the real agenda for the Moldovan- Pridnestrovian dialogue. As you know, in recent years, there has been stagnation in the negotiation process between Pridnestrovie and Moldova, due to the unwillingness of the Moldovan side to fulfill its obligations. Against the background of Moldova's obvious unreadiness for responsible dialogue with Pridnestrovie, calls for a revision of the peacekeeping format are an attempt to substitute concepts. The Moldovan side, for the next, probably for the hundredth time, raises the artificial problem of the "withdrawal of troops" instead of consistently resolving issues from the international negotiating agenda of a social and humanitarian orientation.
Pridnestrovie traditionally calls on the authorities of the neighboring state to focus on topical issues of the negotiation process and not waste time on deliberately unpromising discussions on the issue of some kind of “reformatting” of the existing peacekeeping mission.
- Sandu suggested leaving civilian observers under the auspices of the OSCE instead of the peacekeepers in Pridnestrovie. Such proposals have been made before. Could such a solution be effective?
- It was the trilateral peacekeeping mission under the auspices of the Russian Federation that was able to stop the bloodshed in 1992 and create a solid basis for resolving the conflict exclusively by political and diplomatic means.
Today, there are no legal grounds and prerequisites for any change in the current format of the peacekeeping operation. The peacekeeping mission was created in accordance with the Agreement "On the principles of peaceful settlement of an armed conflict ..." dated July 21, 1992. This document does not provide for the possibility of any transformation of the current peace guarantee mechanism.
Moreover, the functioning of the peacekeeping operation is directly related to the prospects of the negotiation process and cannot be changed until the final settlement of the Moldovan-Pridnestrovian conflict. This position is confirmed by the participants in the negotiation process. For example, it is clearly indicated in the joint statement of the Presidents of Pridnestrovie, Moldova and Russia of March 18, 2009. The goal of such attempts to revise the ongoing peacekeeping operation is to completely destroy the basic basis of the negotiation process with uncertain prospects.
I would like to note that Moldova and Pridnestrovie have already had the sad experience of deploying a civilian mission with an international mandate. Apparently, the elected President of the Republic of Moldova and other Moldovan politicians have forgotten that there was already a four-sided mission of military observers in 1992, which became a clear example of the fact that in the event of a military threat, observers are not able to influence the situation and ensure the safety of the population.
Today, the current format of the peacekeeping operation flawlessly copes with the task of maintaining peace and provides an opportunity to find solutions within the framework of political dialogue.
- The ammunition storage left after the collapse of the USSR in the Pridnestrovian village of Kolbasna has over 20 thousand tons of shells, mines, cartridges. Their transportation is impossible, as was mentioned during the visit to Moldova last year by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. To what extent do Sandu's statements correlate with reality?
- In Pridnestrovie we are accustomed to the fact that Moldovan politicians periodically make high-profile statements, not bothering to delve into the content of such serious issues that arose long before Moldova gained its independence. Military property located on the territory of Pridnestrovie is Russian property and is guarded by Russian military personnel.
Attempts to resolve such delicate issues within the framework of public rhetoric and without close coordination with the Russian Federation and Pridnestrovie cannot be taken seriously. I do not think that loud declarations, consonant with the political demands of individual NATO member states to neutralize the Russian military presence in Pridnestrovie, will contribute to progress on this issue.
Chisinau should have shown more responsibility and thoughtfulness in this matter, including when formulating its position.
- How do you plan to build relations with the new leadership of Moldova in the light of Sandu's statements about unwillingness to negotiate with the leadership of Pridnestrovie?
- We are open to dialogue with any leadership of Moldova to discuss bilateral relations and a wide range of issues in the negotiation process.
There have been different people in the presidency in Chisinau over the past decade. In the case when the president of a neighboring state could not act as a negotiating partner, and this situation was from 2010 to 2016, the dialogue was held with the participation of the head of the executive authorities of the Republic of Moldova, and the agreements reached were signed at the level of the Moldovan Prime Minister.
I think that over time, clarity will come about the readiness of specific representatives of Chisinau to conduct a civilized dialogue with the leadership of Pridnestrovie. It is obvious that if there is a real desire to solve urgent problems in Moldovan-Pridnestrovian relations, then there are no alternatives to bilateral cooperation.