Murphy's Law: October 9, 2002


: A Russian 24-car train loaded with Uragan multiple launch rocket systems, rockets , mines, artillery shells and other military materiel left the Trans- Dnestr region Kolbasna terminal at 14:00 Moscow time (1000 GMT) on 4 October. The train, guarded by Moscow military district troops, is bound for a Moscow region unit. The warehouses of the former Soviet 14th Army have 42,000 tons of ammunition, of which 25,000 will be withdrawn to Russia before the end of the year. The rest will have to be scrapped on the spot, since it dates back to World War II and cannot be transported. 

At the OSCE summit in Istanbul in 1999, Russia promised to withdraw its troops from Moldova before the end of 2002. Three trains filled with military hardware left Tiraspol in November and December 2001. However after the presidential elections in the region in December 2001, the Transdnestrian administration blocked the military trains from leaving, demanding a compensation of $100 million. 

On 25 September, a Russian delegation managed to get the Transdnestrian leadership's content to the resumption of Russian military hardware pullout from the region, although the Russians had to agree to write off some of the Transdnestrian region's $600 million natural gas dept, as compensation for allowing the Russians to remove their own military hardware and ammunition. It's simply cheaper for Moscow to write off debts that will probably never be repaid anyway, than to manufacture new stocks of conventional munitions. The military's magazines have been severely depleted by two wars in Chechnya. Just prior to the Tiraspol negotiations, Yevnevich said that Russia will keep only peacekeeping units in the region before 1 December 2002. - Adam Geibel


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