Moldova has called for the United Nations to discuss withdrawing Russian troops from its breakaway Transdniester region at its current General Assembly session.
“We reaffirm that we insist on the full and unconditional withdrawal of the so-called Operational Group of Russian Forces, the legal successor of the former 14th Soviet Army that is illegally stationed in the territory of the Republic of Moldova," Prime Minister Pavel Filip said in a speech to the Assembly on September 22.
Russia maintains an estimated 2,000-strong force in Transdniester -- 1,500 troops that Moscow says guard huge Soviet-era arms depots, and up to 500 peacekeepers to ensure an uneasy 25-year-old cease-fire which ended a bloody conflict between Moldova and its eastern separatist region.
At a 1999 summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Istanbul, Moscow pledged to withdraw its troops from Transdniester by 2002, but never followed suit.
Filip said that a solution to the situation may be facilitated by transforming the Russian peacekeeping force into a multinational mission under an international mandate.
"This conflict is not an ethnic or a religious one, it is being fueled, inter alia, from the presence of foreign troops in the country's territory," he told the UN in his speech.
"For us it is extremely important that this solution be based on observance of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, by offering a special status to the Transdniester region, as stipulated in the OSCE documents," he said.
Earlier in the day, Filip asked the United States to support a resolution at the UN demanding the withdrawal of the Russian troops.
Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has been badly affected by widespread corruption and high migration, as well as the frozen conflict with Transdniester.