Istanbul, 19 November 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russia today agreed to pull
all of its armed forces out of the former Soviet republic of Moldova, a move long sought by Western nations. Moscow committed itself to a complete withdrawl of its 2,600 soldiers and armor by 2002. At the same time, Moscow agreed to close two of its four military
bases in Georgia, another former Soviet republic. Russia has maintained forces in Georgia since the end of the Cold War, despite opposition from Tbilisi.
Russia made both pledges in writing at the close of the OSCE summit
in Istanbul today.
Earlier today, there were conflicting press reports about Russia's
willingness to withdraw its forces from Moldova.
But Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel -- among other
diplomats attending the OSCE summit in Istanbul -- says that Moscow has agreed to "a complete withdrawal in the year 2002."
Russia has kept armed forces in Moldvoa since 1992, when they
helped settle a war between government forces and Russian-speaking
separatists in the eastern region of Trans-Dniester.
In Georgia, Moscow pledged to close its bases at Gudauta and
Vazianni by mid-2001. Georgia granted Russia the right to what it called further "temporary deployment" of Moscow's troops at Batumi and