Russia withdraws from key European arms control treaty; NATO suspends participation
by A.L. Lee
Washington DC (UPI) Nov 7, 2023
Russia finalized its withdrawal from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe on Tuesday, declaring the Cold War-era agreement null and void nearly two decades after Moscow suspended the armistice.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement overnight, saying the historic peace accord ratified in 1990 between NATO and Warsaw Pact alliance countries, including the former Soviet Union, “has finally become history for Russia.”
In a related move, the Kremlin also revoked two other longstanding agreements, including the Budapest Agreement of Nov. 3, 1990, and the Flank Document of May 31, 1996 — which were designed to address issues related to arms control and disarmament that had persisted in the years after World War II.
In response to Russia’s decision, NATO said it intends to suspend operation of the treaty “for as long as necessary.”
“While recognizing the role of the CFE as a cornerstone of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture, a situation whereby Allied States Parties abide by the Treaty while Russia does not, would be unsustainable.
Russia said its moves were prompted by the recent expansion of NATO, which added Finland in April and expanded the bloc’s border with Russia.
The shakeup takes place amid a growing effort to bring Sweden and Ukraine into the international body, which would serve to deter the Russians from further military aggressions throughout Europe.
Russia now claims the expansion efforts were circumventing legal restrictions declared in the disarmament agreements from three decades ago.
In its statement, the Foreign Ministry blamed NATO and the United States for provoking Russia’s departure from the treaties, saying Washington sought to maintain the original terms, which were favorable to the West, while attempting to extract additional concessions from Russia regarding troop withdrawals in post-Soviet states.
Back in Washington, the U.S. State Department expressed deep concerns over Russia’s sudden reversal on the international truce that brought decades of stability to Eastern Europe by limiting any nation from building an indomitable military force in the region.
“Unfortunately, it represents a significant step in the wrong direction, taking us further from, not closer to, entry into force,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement last week ahead of the move. “Russia’s action will only serve to set back confidence in the international arms control regime. We appreciate the similar statements of concern expressed by many other States in recent weeks about this action.”
Moscow’s pullback comes nearly a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that could lead to Russia’s withdrawal from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1996.
In response, Blinken said the United States would “continue to emphasize the irresponsibility of Russia’s recent rhetoric regarding nuclear weapon explosive testing and the CTBT.”
Blinken also noted “Moscow’s disturbing and misguided effort to heighten nuclear risks and raise tensions as it pursues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
Blinken acknowledged recent statements by Russian officials who said Russia’s withdrawal did not mean the country would ramp up nuclear testing.
“The United States remains committed to achieving the entry into force of the CTBT, and we reiterate our commitment to our zero-yield nuclear explosive testing moratorium, which has been in place for 30 years,” Blinken said. “It is essential that we preserve the global norm against nuclear explosive testing.”
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry claimed Russia offered an opportunity for open dialogue on European arms control when it suspended the treaty in 2007, however, the international community chose not to engage with Moscow.
“Taking into account the direct responsibility of NATO countries for inciting the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the admission of Finland to the alliance and the ongoing consideration of a similar application from Sweden, even the formal preservation of the CFE Treaty has become unacceptable from the point of view of Russia’s fundamental security interests,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
NATO condemns Russia ditching conventional forces treaty
Brussels (AFP) Nov 7, 2023
NATO countries on Tuesday condemned Russia’s formal withdrawal from a landmark treaty limiting conventional forces in Europe and said allies involved were suspending its operation.
Russia in 2007 suspended its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe – a bedrock of the continent’s post-Cold War security since the early 1990s.
Moscow on Tuesday said its formal withdrawal from the treaty had gone into force overnight.
“The treaty… has finally become a part of his … read more
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