On CFE once again


Duma deputies passed the bill “On suspension of the effect of the CFE” and approved by the Federation Council on November 7 and 16 respectively. Vladimir Putin signed the law on November 30. However, implementation of the moratorium does not mean the final withdrawal of Russia from the CFE but only freezes its effect on the territory of Russia and thus lifts limitations from the deployment and movement of troops in the European party of Russia and abolishes visits of Western military observers for inspection purposes.

Hence, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a special statement. The document published on the website of the ministry says:

“At 00:00 hours Moscow time, on December 12, 2007, all of Russia’s activities for implementing the Treaty and related documents was suspended. In particular, the provision by it of information and the acceptance and conduct of inspections are brought to a halt. During the suspension period, Russia will not be bound by restrictions, including flank restrictions, on the number of its conventional weapons.”

“This move was due to the exceptional circumstances pertaining to the content of the CFE Treaty affecting the security of Russia and requiring some immediate measures. Of them, we had repeatedly and thoroughly told our treaty partners.”

“Our positive program to restore the viability of the CFE Treaty is well known. We voiced it at the Extraordinary Conference of the States Parties to the CFE Treaty in June 2007, and also explained it in the course of a number of multilateral and bilateral meetings with the treaty partners.

We consider that to achieve this goal it is necessary to:

– agree on how to compensate for the additional potential acquired by NATO as a result of its expansion;

– arrange the parameters for restraint in the stationing of forces on foreign territories;

– resolve on the abolition of so called flank restrictions for the territory of Russia (they hinder our common struggle against terrorism);

– ensure the participation in the Treaty of the new NATO members Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Slovenia;

– enact the adapted version of the CFE Treaty as soon as possible and without artificial conditions and embark on its further modernization.”

Experts are currently discussing which measures Russia can take in reality to the build up its military potential in the European part of the country due to stopping the effect of the CFE?

It is believed that this will be done along four main lines.

First, it is impossible to rule out that the strength of the groups of forces of permanent readiness in the European part of the country will be increased in general.

Second, the concentration of troops will be done on borders with the Baltic republics and Ukraine.

Third, the optimization of authorized strength of units and formations of the Russian army and the restoration of the necessary levels of their arming with some kinds of armament may become an important measure taken after the CFE suspension. First of all, this is arming with tanks, self-propelled artillery mounts and missile systems.

Fourth, it is impossible to rule out that after liquidation of the CFE, limitations the General Staff of the Armed Forces will increase the mobilization potential of the country in the European part of Russia, or namely will increase the quantity of the so-called divisions and brigades with reduced personnel that may be fully manned if necessary.