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Moldova renews calls for Russian troop withdrawal



Moldova’s parliament on Friday issued a fresh demand for Russian troops to leave a breakaway region of the country in a symbolic move likely to stir tensions with Moscow.

Following a walkout by pro-Kremlin parties, lawmakers in the ex-Soviet nation approved a declaration calling for Russia to pull out soldiers who have been stationed in the breakaway territory of Transdniestr since a ceasefire deal halted a bitter conflict 25 years ago.

The presence of Russian forces “violates the constitutional provisions on independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity” of Moldova, the declaration said.

The demand is not expected to alter the situation on the ground but has already stirred passions in the divided country.

There is currently a tug-of-war going on inside Moldova, with the pro-Western government locked in a bitter dispute with Kremlin-friendly figurehead President Igor Dodon over the country’s future.

Pro-EU lawmaker Marian Lupu hailed the vote as “very important” and said it was “symbolic” that it came on the 25th anniversary of the end of the conflict in the Russian-speaking Transdniestr region in 1992.

But Dodon immediately hit back, calling the move “another provocative step” that was “intended to worsen relations with Russia.”

Moldova, a small country wedged between Ukraine and Romania, has an East-West cultural, linguistic and political split.

Dodon, who was elected in November, has called for closer ties with Moscow and said he would like to scrap a 2014 deal that brought Moldova closer to the European Union.

In May, Moldova’s West-leaning government kicked out five Russian diplomats which saw Moscow turf out its officials in revenge.

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