Russia’s CFE Moratorium Came Into Effect


12.12.2007 14:02 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Russia’s unilateral moratorium on a major arms
reductions treaty in Europe came into force immediately after
midnight on Wednesday. The law to freeze Russia’s participation in
the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty has been unanimously
approved by parliament and signed on November 30 by President Vladimir
Putin. "The moratorium will remain valid until all NATO member states
without exception ratify the Treaty and follow it," he said.

Moscow considers the original CFE treaty, signed in December 1990 by
16 NATO countries and six Warsaw Pact members, to be discriminatory
and outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw
Pact, the breakup of the Soviet Union, or recent NATO expansion.

Russia is particularly concerned about the so called flank limitations
under the CFE treaty, which essentially prohibit Moscow from
reinforcing its military contingents in the North Caucasus military
district and in Russia’s northwest Leningrad military district.

Russia has been pushing for a new adapted version of the CFE, which
sets specific ‘ceilings’ for each participant of the treaty on five
categories of conventional weapons – battle tanks, armored combat
vehicles, artillery pieces, combat aircraft and attack helicopters.

However, NATO countries have insisted on Russia’s withdrawal from
Moldova and Georgia as a condition for their ratification of the
modified document. As a result, only Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and
Kazakhstan have so far ratified the adapted document.

Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, chief of the Russian General Staff, earlier said
that the current treaty favored the U.S. and NATO because it allowed
them to exceed national and territorial limitations on the number of
armaments, freely deploy and re-deploy military contingents anywhere
in Europe, and monitor Russian troops in the European part of Russia.

According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, NATO has substantially
exceeded armament levels permitted by the CFE for NATO members –
by 6,000 tanks, some 10,000 armored vehicles, over 5,000 artillery
items and 1,500 combat planes.

Baluyevsky also said at the time that the Baltic States, which had
not signed the adapted document, remained "grey zones" not covered
by arms control agreements.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement early on Wednesday
that under these unfair conditions Russia "had no alternative but to
suspend its CFE membership to protect its interests in the sphere of
military security."

The ministry said Russia would not immediately increase the strength
of its Armed Forces along its borders, but would not hesitate to do
so if the need arises.

"During the temporary suspension of Russia’s participation in the
CFE treaty, the country will not be bound by limitations [under the
treaty], including by ‘flank limitations’, on the number of deployed
conventional weapons," the statement said.

"At the same time, we do not have plans to amass and concentrate
these weapons on the borders with our neighbors," the document said.

In practical terms, Moscow will not share with NATO information
specified by the provisions of the CFE treaty, and will not allow any
NATO military inspections on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The ministry also said that Russia could resume its participation in
the treaty shortly after NATO countries ratify the adapted version
of the CFE treaty, signed on November 19, 1999 by all NATO countries
except Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia.

The moratorium "is justified politically, is legitimate, and allows
Russia to resume its participation in the treaty by presidential
decree if our [NATO] partners show their political will [by ratifying
the adapted document]," the statement said.

The ministry reiterated that Russia proposed to NATO concrete measures
to revive the arms control treaty, which the West considers the
cornerstone of European security. They include agreements on how
to compensate for misbalances in the number of deployed weaponry,
which emerged after NATO’s expansion, and the abolishment of the so
called flank limitations on the territory of Russia.

In addition, Moscow insists that new NATO members – Estonia, Lithuania,
Latvia and Slovenia – must sign the treaty and immediately ratify it
together with other NATO countries.

"We are waiting for a constructive response from NATO to these
proposals," the Foreign Ministry said, stressing the need for
productive dialogue on the issue with respect to mutual concerns.

"Russia is ready to continue a result-oriented dialogue on the CFE
even during the current moratorium," the statement concluded, RIA
Novosti reports.