After initiatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the suspension of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, parliament members started debating this issue too. According to Leonid Slutsky, senior deputy chair of the parliamentary committee for international affairs, in October the lower house of parliament will debate a bill on the suspension of CFE validity in Russia. The parliamentary hearings dedicated to this topic will be held on September 19.
Western observers notice that Russia suspends the CFE simultaneously with other steps in the provision of its security. Permanent flights of strategic aviation have been renewed, Russia goes out into the world ocean regularly, it develops new kinds of armament and Russian military budget will grow steadily in the next three years. Does this mean an armament race on the part of Russia?
NATO already tries to answer this question affirmatively. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced recently that “if we look at how Russia has been behaving lately, it is possible to notice that relations between NATO and Moscow may grow worse because of cold-war era stereotypes.” Meanwhile, it is clear that concerning the improvement of its defense, Russia acts logically and correctly because it defends its national interests. Of course, any armament race is out of the question. Moscow is evidently trying to do its best to limit the eastward expansion of NATO. It is against the deployment of antimissile defense elements in Europe and is going to keep reducing its nuclear arsenal.
It is possible that Russia will be reproached of the armament race soon anyway if it, for instance, deploys tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus and the Kaliningrad Region and quits the treaty on medium-range and short-range missiles. Such a step will evidently be efficient for the maintenance of the defense capability of the country. Europe will hardly wish for a new round of spreading of nuclear weapons, even tactical ones …