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Country Reports
MOLDOVA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999



Moldova declared independence from the Soviet Union on 27 August 1991. Previously, the region of Transdniester (also called the “Transnistrian Moldovan Republic,” or PMR - Pridnestrovskaya Moldavskaya Respublika) had declared independence from Moldova on 2 September 1990. Forces from Moldova and the PMR battled each other in 1992 in a conflict in which both sides used antipersonnel mines. Peacekeeping forces (with Russian, Belarussian, and Ukrainian troops) have been in Moldova since July 1992.

The Russian (Soviet) 14th Army has been based in the Transdniester region of Moldova since 1956. The stockpile of Russian arms and ammunition in the Transdniester region is huge, reportedly containing 500,000 tons of weaponry , including landmines, worth $20 billion. The stockpiles are said to be poorly guarded, and thus easily accessible.[2] The Russian 14th Army reportedly has provided the Transdniestrian separatists with large amounts of weapons, including mines, as well as training facilities and financial support.[3] Russia and Moldova signed an agreement in October 1994 on the withdrawal of the 14th Army from Transdniester, but the Russian government balked at ratifying it, and another stalemate ensued. PMR forces denounced the agreement.[4] Russia apparently deems Transdniester as a key to the Balkans and will not give up its military presence. The PMR leadership has tried to get special status for the PMR as a part of Russia. Talks have continued to try to settle the status of the Transdniester region, but as yet no to avail. The OSCE believes that Transdniester should not be recognized as an independent state but be granted some form of special status with autonomy.[5]

Mine Ban Policy

Moldova signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997. It has not yet ratified it. Moldova was not active in the Ottawa Process, and did not participate in the treaty negotiations in Oslo. But it did endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997, and voted in favor of the pro-ban UN General Assembly resolutions in 1996, 1997, and 1998. It is not a state party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons.


Although Transdniester is not recognized as an independent state, it must be distinguished from Moldova with respect to arms production. The Moldovan government is not believed to produce landmines. However, Moldova has accused Transdniester of producing its own arms, including antipersonnel mines. Arms factories located in Ribnita, Tiraspol, and Tighina were part of the Soviet Union’s military supply complex and are continuing to produce weapons, Moldovan officials claim.[6] The Transdniester government admitted that it did produce arms in order “to maintain the same military footing with Moldova.”[7]


The Moldovan government is not known to have imported or exported antipersonnel landmines, but inherited stocks from the USSR. The Russian 14th Army has provided the PMR separatists with mines. The PMR may in turn have supplied mines to others; it has allegedly provided support to Abkhazia against Georgia, and the Krajina Serbs against Croatia.[8]


According to the government, Moldova’s national army has approximately 12,000 mines.[9] The number of mines in the PMR stockpile is unknown, but likely in the thousands. Types of antipersonnel mines thought to be in Moldovan/Transdniester arsenals include: PMN, PMN-2, PMN-4, OZM-72, MON-50, MON-90, MON-100, MON-200, KSF-ls, PFM-ls, and POM-2s.[10]

Mines are also in the hands of criminals. In 1998, grenades and mines were used in twenty-five cases of burglary or other crimes.[11]

The Russian 14th Army has destroyed obsolete munitions located in its stockpiles in the Transdniester region. In November 1995, the Army destroyed eighty landmines manufactured between 1941 and 1945, and planned to destroy another 400 tons of old mines and shells.[12] In 1996, over 4,500 mines and missiles made between 1937 and 1941 were destroyed in Transdniester. The administration in Tiraspol (Transdniester) has protested continuing this destruction because of the ecological damage.[13] The Russian Army’s arsenal at Kolbasna, one of the largest in Europe,[14] may have 100,000 tons of mines, artillery shells, rockets, and grenades of WWII vintage, many of which are stored in easily accessible areas.[15] Russian troops have made plans to ship some of the weapons to Russia, although both Moldova and Transdniester want the weapons to remain.

Mine Clearance

According to a 1994 U.S. State Department report, a tripartite control commission, consisting of Russia, Moldova, and the Transdniester, began to demine the conflict zone, with hopes of completing clearance operations by the end of 1994.[16] This did not happen, but the current status is unclear. In May 1998, the Foreign Ministry said that, of the 72 kilometers of land affected by mines, all but 15 kilometers have been cleared.[17] In January 1999 a Moldovan Foreign Ministry spokesman said that eighty hectares of Moldova are strewn with mines, and another seventy need to be checked.[18] In 1994, the U.S. State Department estimated 200 hectares were mine infested.[19] Another source states that Transdniester has cleared 34% of its landmines.[20] The U.S. has offered to help Moldova clear its remaining minefields. In January 1999, U.S. officials met with Moldovan officials to discuss the removal of weapons from Transdniester and mine clearance.

Landmine Casualties

According to the Moldovan Foreign Ministry, during 1992 and 1993, two Moldovan peacekeepers were killed and eight injured, one Russian peacekeeper was wounded, and one Transdniestrian peacekeeper was killed and six wounded by landmines. Four civilians were killed and ten injured.[21] In December 1994, the U.S. reported that mines had killed four and wounded over 50 in the past year.[22] There is no information available about special assistance provided to landmine survivors.


[1] Information for this section was taken from Dr. Trevor Waters, “Moldova: Continuing Recipe for Instability,” Jane’s Intelligence Review, 1 September 1996.

[2] “Moldova: Sides Locked in Dispute over Russian Arsenal in Dnestr Region,” BBC Monitoring International Reports, 31 January 1999.

[3] Waters, “Moldova: Continuing Recipe for Instability.”

[4] “Moldova: Transdniester’s Arsenals ‘Largest in Europe,’ Unguarded,” FBIS, FBIS-UMA-99-033, 2 February 1999.

[5] “OSCE Views Dniester Option,” FBIS, FBIS-SOV-98-128, 8 May 1998.

[6] “Moldova: Speranta Bloc Claims Dniester Produces, Exports Arms,” FBIS, FBIS-TAC-98-064, 5 March 1998.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Vladimir Lupan, Foreign Ministry of Moldova, Statement made at the First International Conference on Landmines in Russia and the CIS, Moscow, 27-28 May 1998.

[10] Ukrainian Peacekeepers Veterans Association, Annual Report 1998.

[11] “Crime Rate Goes Down in Moldova,” FBIS, FBIS-SOV-98-196, 14 July 1998.

[12] “Moldova: 14th Army Destroying Obsolete Arms; Presidential Aide Baturin Inspecting,” BBC Monitoring Service, 28 November 1995.

[13] United Nations, Country Report: Moldova, at: www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/moldova.htm.

[14] Waters, “Moldova: Continuing Recipe for Instability.”

[15] Yuri Selivanov, Vecheslav Arhipov, Stockpiles in Pridnestrovie, 23 February 1999.

[16] U.S. State Department, Hidden Killers, December 1994, p. 25.

[17] Lupan, Statement made at the First International Conference on Landmines in Russia and the CIS.

[18] “Moldova: US Experts to Help Clear Minefields in Moldova,” FBIS, FBIS-TAC-99-029, 29 January 1999.

[19] U.S. State Department, Hidden Killers, December 1994, p. 25.

[20] “Moldova: Transdniester’s Arsenals ‘Largest in Europe,’ Unguarded.”

[21] Lupan, Statement made at the First International Conference on Landmines in Russia and the CIS.

[22] U.S. State Department, Hidden Killers, December 1994, p. 25.