Czechs Urge Transdnestr Pullout

ReutersTransdnestr soldiers marching during a parade in Tiraspol on Tuesday.
PRAGUE — Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said Tuesday that Russia should pull its troops out of the separatist Moldovan region of Transdnestr, easing a stalemate made more dangerous by the war in Georgia.

"We request that Russia remove its ammunition and withdraw its troops from Transdnestr because they have no mandate for their presence in the territory," Topolanek said after meeting Moldovan Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii on Tuesday.

But Transdnestr appeared in no mood for compromise. The breakaway region marked 18 years of self-declared independence Tuesday with a military parade — and vows to defend itself.

The Transdnestr defense minister, Stanislav Hajeev, said his army "is ready to repel attacks from any aggressor."

Transdnestr declared independence from Moldova, a former Soviet republic, on Sept. 2, 1990 — a declaration followed in 1992 by several months of war that left Transdnestr with de facto independence.

The breakaway region is not recognized internationally, but it is supported by Russia, which keeps 1,500 troops there to guard large weapons storage facilities left over from the former Soviet military.

Topolanek said European Union leaders "carefully watch the developments in the region," and discussed Moldova at their summit in Brussels on Monday.

He said the EU supports the territorial integrity of Moldova and the best course would be Moldova's integration into European structures.