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Putin threatens Russian pull-out from landmark arms treaty

Anonymous Coward
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04/26/2007 10:50 AM
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Putin threatens Russian pull-out from landmark arms treaty
Putin threatens Russian pull-out from landmark arms treaty

President Vladimir Putin has threatened Russian withdrawal from a landmark Cold War era arms treaty limiting military forces in Europe, abruptly raising the stakes in an increasingly tense security dispute with the West.

"It would be appropriate to announce a moratorium on Russian adherence to this treaty until it has been ratified by all NATO countries," Mr Putin told the Russian parliament in his annual state of the nation address, referring to the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty.

"I suggest this issue be raised in the Russia-NATO council and, in the event there is no progress in negotiation, that we consider terminating our obligations under the CFE."

The CFE Treaty was signed in 1990 in Paris by the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the former Warsaw Pact.

It was adapted in 1999 following the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the enlargement of NATO, but NATO states have not yet ratified the new pact.

Mr Putin says Russia, which did ratify the new treaty, had been complying with it on a unilateral basis and today had virtually no military forces deployed in the north-west and European areas of the country despite being the only CFE signatory with both northern and southern flanks to protect.

Members of the US-led NATO bloc have tied ratification of the adapted 1999 CFE Treaty to withdrawal of Russian forces from the ex-Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova, efforts which Russia says have been under way and which are bilateral issues unrelated to the CFE pact.

"What about them?" Mr Putin said, referring to the NATO countries that have not ratified the treaty.

"Our partners have not even ratified the treaty.

"This gives us every reason to say that our partners are acting in this situation incorrectly at a very minimum," Mr Putin said in comments interrupted at one point by applause from the deputies from the State Duma and the Federation Council gathered at the Kremlin for the speech.

Long-running dispute

Russia and the West have been disputing application of the adapted CFE Treaty for years with each side accusing the other of acting in bad faith.

But Mr Putin's warning ratcheted the testy rhetoric up to the top level of the state and coincided with a rapid chilling in relations between Russia and the United States over US plans to deploy elements of its new missile defence system in two former Warsaw Pact states near Russia's border.

The Russian President took direct aim at the US missile plans and linked it directly to the CFE treaty, stating "It is high time for our partners to deliver their contribution to arms reduction, not just in word but in deed".

Mr Putin says the missile defence plan if carried out, will mark an unprecedented deployment in Europe of US strategic weaponry and says this is an issue that should be of concern not just in US-Russian bilateral relations, but on the continent as a whole.

"In one way or another, this affects the interests of all European states including those that are not members of NATO," Mr Putin said.

The Russian leader says the matter should be taken up by the Vienna-based Organisation for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), a body that Moscow has for years accused of veering from its original mission to deal with security matters in Europe toward promotion of a US political agenda.

"It is time to give the activities of the OSCE some real content, to turn the face of the organisation toward the problems that really concern the people of Europe instead of only looking to build (political) blocs in the post-Soviet space," Mr Putin said.

[link to www.abc.net.au]
Anonymous Coward
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04/26/2007 11:23 AM
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Re: Putin threatens Russian pull-out from landmark arms treaty
If Russia has been the only one to ratify the treaty it would appear there really is no treaty yet. Russia has been merely going on the assumption that the other treating parties would ratify? But this started in 1990, its now 2007, 17 years later, Russia is still the only party to ratify it? After 17 years one would think the treaty is a dead issue, sorta like the Equal Rights Amendment in the USA became a dead issue after not being ratified by the States.

How can this be a "landmark arms treaty" when only one party has ratified it? It is instead "the treaty that never was".