Jane VaynmanPutin Suspends CFE

The Kremlin has issued a decree suspending Russia’s participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty (CFE). The link is to the Russian, and the English should be up shortly at www.kremlin.ru. From Reuters:

The decree suspended Russia’s role in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) pact, adopted in 1990 to limit the number of tanks, heavy artillery and combat aircraft deployed and stored between the Atlantic and Russia’s Ural mountains.

Russia has accused the West of failing to ratify an amended version signed in 1999 to take into account the new post-Cold War situation. Talks last month with NATO states ended without progress.

A NATO spokesman said on Saturday of the Russian suspension: “If this is confirmed the Secretary General very much regrets this decision. The allies consider this treaty to be an important cornerstone of European security.”

A major source of friction is NATO’s insistence on preserving “flanking arrangements” which ban large concentrations of forces and materiel near some borders.

Russia objects to that provision because it limits Russian troop movements within Russian territory although Moscow says its border areas have become more unstable since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.

More updates soon.


  1. MEC (History)

    Linked to the US/Russian divide over the missile issue? Hmmm.

  2. Neil Couch (History)

    This is the English text from the Russian Presidential web-site:

    July 14, 2007

    Information on the decree “On Suspending the Russian Federation’s Participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and Related International Agreements”

    The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) was signed in Paris on 19 November 1990 and came into force on 9 November 1992.

    The CFE Treaty served as a viable and effective way to strengthen European security in the early 1990s. It created a balance between the conventional forces of two military and political alliances, the Warsaw Pact and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), by limiting their armaments and also providing for limits to prevent them from deploying conventional weapons in potential areas of conflict.

    The Treaty’s objectives included: establishing a secure and stable balance of conventional armed forces in Europe at lower levels than heretofore, eliminating disparities prejudicial to stability and security, and eliminating the capability for launching surprise attacks and for initiating large-scale offensive action in Europe.

    However, almost immediately after signing the Agreement on Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, NATO members opted to delay this document’s coming into force.

    NATO countries decided that ratification of the Adapted Treaty is contingent upon Russia’s complying with various unsubstantiated conditions. One such condition consists in implementing elements of bilateral agreements between the Russian Federation, Georgia and Moldova, bilateral agreements not linked to the CFE Treaty on withdrawing Russian troops from those countries’ territories. These agreements were concluded in Istanbul before signing the Adapted Treaty in November 1999 (Istanbul Agreements). While Russia is implementing all agreements relating to the CFE Treaty, Russia considers that linking these two matters is wrong.

    Exceptional circumstances surrounding the CFE Treaty have led the Russian Federation to consider suspending its participation in the Treaty until NATO members ratify the Adapted Treaty and begin to implement the document in good faith.

    The need to suspend the CFE Treaty is a result of the following exceptional circumstances that affect the security of the Russian Federation:

    1. The failure of Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to make the necessary changes in the composition of group of states party to the Treaty on the accession of these countries to NATO;

    2. The excessive parties to the CFE Treaty that belong to NATO, and the exclusive group that formed among CFE Treaty members as a result of the widening of the alliance;

    3. The negative impact of the planned deployment of America’s conventional forces in Bulgaria and Romania because of this exclusive group mentality;

    4. The failure of a number of parties of the CFE Treaty to comply with the political obligations contained in the Istanbul Agreements relating to the early ratification of the Adapted Treaty;

    5. The failure of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to comply with commitments accepted in Istanbul to adjust their territorial ceilings;

    6. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania’s failure to participate in the CFE Treaty has adverse effects on Russia’s ability to implement its political commitments to military containment in the northwestern part of the Russian Federation. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania’s actions result in a territory in which there are no restrictions on the deployment of conventional forces, including other countries’ forces.

    At an extraordinary meeting of parties to the CFE Treaty, held in Vienna on 12-15 June 2007, the Russian Federation outlined the conditions necessary for restoring the viability of the CFE Treaty:

    the return of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to the negotiating table;

    the reduction of the permissible amounts and stocks of Treaty-limited equipment for NATO countries in order to compensate for the widening of the NATO alliance;

    arriving at a political settlement concerning the abolition of flank restrictions on Russian territory;

    working out a common understanding of the term “substantial combat forces” and showing cooperation and restraint prior to coming to an agreement;

    the coming into force or at least starting to apply the interim Adapted Treaty no later than 1 July 2008; and,

    working out the terms of accession of new members of the CFE Treaty and the continuous upgrading of the Treaty.

    The results of emergency meetings and consultations of the Russia-NATO Council demonstrate that NATO countries continue to link their ratification of the Adapted Treaty with Russia’s fulfilling the Istanbul Agreements. They have also ignored Russian suggestions on how to prevent a CFE Treaty crisis in the run-up to the emergency meeting, limiting themselves to promising to discuss the suggestions later, once the Adapted Treaty comes into force.

    The resulting situation makes it necessary to take measures to suspend the Treaty.

    Suspension of the Treaty between the Russian Federation and parties to the CFE Treaty is in conformity with international law. The operation of the Treaty will be suspended in 150 days as of the date of Russia’s notifying the depositary and other member states of its decision.

    In accordance with the federal law “On the International Treaties of the Russian Federation”, the suspension of the CFE Treaty, which was ratified by a decree 3243-1 of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation on 8 July 1992, is subject to federal law. Paragraph 4 of Article 37 of the federal law stipulates that in case of necessity, immediate action to suspend the CFE Treaty can be taken by the President of the Russian Federation, who must instantly inform the Federal Assembly of his actions and submit a draft federal law to this effect to the State Duma.

    It is appropriate to suspend related international agreements including the Budapest Agreements and Flank Agreements along with the CFE Treaty. In accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 37 of the federal law “On the International Treaties of the Russian Federation”, this decision is incumbent on the President of the Russian Federation.

  3. Anna (History)

    Suspension of participation in this Cold War relic of an agreement is only tangentially related to the US-Russia missile defense divide, and is better viewed in the context of the dysfunctional Russia-NATO relations. Certainly, Moscow has grumbled about NATO’s treatment of CFE long before the missile defense discussions came to a head (See peculiar of summary of 1999 negotiations in Russian here: http://nvo.ng.ru/forces/2006-06-02/1_dovse.html). While it’s not likely to accomplish anything, I think this move just shows that Moscow is tired of being treated with duality – as NATO’s “partner” and at the same time as a favorite punching bag for the alliance’s new members. The relationship it may have to missile defense is perhaps that this may be a way of forcing the issue from the bilateral US-Poland and US-Czech frameworks into the multilateral framework in NATO.

  4. MEC (History)

    While I believe that Moscow considered pulling out of the CFE long before recent strained relations emerged over the missile shield in Poland, it does seem a bit conveniently timed, does it not?

    It seems that political maneuvering is far from over.