At a time when European officials concerned about Russian aggression in Eastern Europe are openly calling for the creation of a Pan-European army, Moscow has announced it will cease all involvement in a major arms control treaty that was signed at the end of the Cold War.
The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was an agreement signed in 1990 between the 16 North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries and six Warsaw Pact countries. It set caps on the number of soldiers, tanks, artillery pieces and other non-nuclear military assets that could be stationed in Europe.
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State-run media reported that the decision to “withdraw completely” from the treaty was announced by Anton Mazur, head of the Russian delegation arms control talks in Vienna.
Russia’s withdrawal decision is very nearly a formality. Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007 suspended Russia’s observation of the treaty after the other signatories would not agree to changes, in the form of an “adapted” treaty. Russia had felt those changes were necessary because of a realignment of global power away from Russia after the Cold War.
“For years, the Russian side has been doing its best to maintain viability of the regime of control over conventional arms, it initiated talks on adapting the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, it ratified the agreement on Adapted CFE Treaty,” Mazur said, according to the Kremlin-owned news service ITAR-TASS. “Regrettably, NATO countries have preferred to dodge CFE provisions by means of the alliance’s expansion and use any pretexts to prevent the Agreement on Adapted CFE Treaty from coming into effect. This course pursued despite our repeated warning about its harmful impacts on the regime of control over conventional weapons led to the unavoidable result — Russia’s suspending the CFE Treaty in 2007.”
Russia had continued to participate in “consultative” meetings with the signatories. However, Mazur said the Kremlin now sees further participation as “pointless from both political and practical points of view and as excessively costly from the financial and economic point of view.”
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Mazur added, “This step does not mean that Russia rejects further dialogue on control over conventional arms in Europe if and when our partners are ripe for that. We are still ready for joint work on a new regime of control over conventional arms in Europe, which is in the interests of both Russia and other European states.”
The announcement comes just days after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for creating a single army to represent the entire European Union, citing ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine as a primary reason.
“A common European army would convey a clear message to Russia that we are serious about defending our European values,” Juncker said.
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