Balkans: March 7, 2004


On March 5 a Romanian defense ministry official said that small arms manufactured in Moldovas separatist Transdniester region have ended up in the hands of Chechen rebels. Its interesting that Romania is the source of this accusation, and not Russia. However, Romania supports Moldova in its still-lingering confrontation with Transdniester, and Russia still maintains political ties with ethnic Russians in Transdniester. That noted, Russias current policy is to resolve the situation in Moldova peacefully, with a federal or confederal relationship between Moldova and Transdniester.) One report said that Romania was using Janes Intelligence Review to support its claim of Trandsdniesterian gunrunning. Transdniester denied that claim, and said that the region does not export any domestically produced weapons. Transdniester had, at one time, several huge Soviet Army arms and munitions dumps. Russian has been slowly removing the munitions. Moldovan and Russian sources both say most of the arms have been withdrawn, but those reports refered to heavy armaments. Keeping track of small arms is difficult which is why trafficking in them is tough to stop, especially in poorly administered areas like Transdniester. Russia has a real interest in stopping the flow of arms to Chechen rebels, but the word is the Chechens pay in hard currency (the implication being the Chechen money comes from wealthy Moslem donors). It will be interesting to see if any reports come from Russian sources about crackdowns on arms trafficking from Transdniester. 


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