Jeffrey LewisRussia ratifies Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty

Russia completed ratification of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty on June 25, Defense News reports. The ratification is welcome news, but it comes amid a troubling political context.

Russia is concerned about the expansion of NATO into the Baltics and views the CFE Treaty, which regulates conventional force deployments, as an important mechanism to reduce the security burden posed by Baltic membership in NATO. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Interfax “It is necessary to make sure that all of the alliance/’s new members will undertake to join the… CFE and until they do will undertake to follow its guidelines.”

In a fit of pique over the CFE issue, Russian President Vladmir Putin will not attend the NATO summit in Istanbul. Officially, Putin/’s absence was downplayed by Russian officials, such as Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov, who told Vremya Novostei “Regrettably, there were no prerequisites for the attendance of the summit by the Russian head of state.”

That is a not-terribly subtle hint. The Saint Petersburg Times has a nice opinion article on Putin/’s absence:

Off the record, Foreign Ministry officials say that Putin/’s decision to stay home is an expression of Russian irritation at recent actions taken by NATO. The alliance did not properly appreciate Moscow/’s measured response to the recent expansion of NATO, which included not just four former Warsaw Pact countries but the three former Soviet Baltic republics, they say. Moreover, NATO member states are in no hurry to ratify the updated Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). As a result, the possibility remains that the alliance could proceed with a major military build-up on Russia/’s northwest border. Moscow is also irked by NATO/’s receptive attitude toward the expressed desire of Georgia and Ukraine to join the alliance.

In other words, the ratification reflects Putin/’s desire to put his own house in order and put pressure on the West. Good times.