Russia downplays NATO move on key arms treaty

NATO’s decision to curb its cooperation with Moscow on the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty will not harm Russia’s interests, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

United States and a number of its NATO allies announced on Tuesday they will no longer exchange information on conventional weapons and troops with Russia four years after Russia stopped implementing the treaty in 2007.

“The decision of NATO countries does not harm the Russian interests, but it calls for intensified efforts of all interested parties to determine the future of arms control regime in Europe,” the ministry said in a statement.

The original CFE Treaty was signed in 1990 by 16 NATO countries and six Warsaw Pact members and came into force in 1992. The treaty set equal ceilings for each bloc on five key categories of conventional armaments and military hardware, including tanks, combat armored vehicles, artillery, assault helicopters and combat aircraft.

The CFE Treaty played a crucial stabilizing role during the breakup of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern Europe. However, later the document became largely outdated and irrelevant amid large-scale changes in the military and political environment.

The treaty was updated in 1999, but NATO members states refused to ratify it citing the fact that Russia was keeping troops in Georgia and the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdnestr as a pretext.

Russia imposed a unilateral moratorium on the CFE treaty in December 2007, citing concerns over NATO’s eastward expansion, U.S. missile defense plans for Europe, and the refusal of alliance members to ratify the adapted treaty. Moscow has repeatedly said it will resume its participation in the CFE if NATO member states ratify the adapted treaty.


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