In his annual message to the Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin proposed an announcement of a moratorium on fulfillment of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). Putin said that Warsaw Pact countries and NATO signed the document in 1990. If the Warsaw Pact continued to exist, the meaning of this document would be understandable. Along with this, Russia has not only signed and ratified the treaty, but also fulfills all its provisions in practice.
Putin stated: “We reduced the quantity of troops significantly. We do not have any army or corps level command left in the northwest. Practically all kinds of heavy armament were removed from the European part of the country. We are actually the only country that has flank limitations in the south and north. Even in conditions of an aggravated situation in the Chechen Republic, Russia continued fulfilling the terms of the treaty by coordinating its actions with the partners.”
“What about them? Our partners did not even ratify the adapted treaty referring to the Istanbul agreements which made provisions for the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia and Trans-Dniester Republic,” said the President. According to him, Russia is working on solving these problems purposefully and the CFE is not legally connected with the Istanbul agreements by anything. Putin emphasized: “This circumstance gives us ground to state that in this case, our partners behave at least incorrectly, striving for unilateral advantages.”
Putin proposed the consideration of Russia’s withdrawal from the CFE: “I propose a discussion of this problem in the Russia-NATO council and, in case of a lack of progress in negotiations, to consider tje possibility of ceasing our obligations under CFE.”
The Defense Ministry of Russia will raise the issue of negotiations on the fate of the CFE at the meeting of Russia-NATO council on May 10 in Brussels, reports Senior Deputy Defense Minister and Chief of the General Staff, Yury Baluevsky. Baluevsky, who will be the head of the Russian delegation, explains: “I will be in Brussels on May 10. We are prepared to start negotiations and we will convey the stance of the President to our colleagues.”
As a result of the fulfillment of adapted CFE potential of conventional armed forces of European countries from the military standpoint, as well as the US and Canada, had to be reduced significantly and their offensive capabilities had to be lowered. The aggregate reduction of the national levels of armament of 19 member states of NATO in comparison to the existing one should amount to about 4,800 tanks, 4,000 combat armored vehicles, more than 4,000 artillery systems, which corresponded to approximately ten mobilized divisions of the NATO standard. Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia until the end of 2002 and Poland until the end of 2003 had to reduce their territorial and national levels in comparison to existing one by 595 tanks, 665 combat armored vehicles and 440 artillery systems. Similar steps had to be taken by Germany (minus 200 tanks) and Italy (minus 81 tanks, 167 combat armored vehicles and 137 artillery systems). Among the former Soviet republics, the CFE was not signed by Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia which already entered into NATO. So far, European countries do not observe the CFE. That is why Vladimir Putin has released such a harsh statement.