Russia’s suspension of arms treaty disappoints US, NATO

By Xinhua

Beijing : The US, NATO and several European states have expressed disappointment over Russia’s suspension of its participation in the treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE).

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“We’re disappointed Russia has suspended its participation for now,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Saturday.

“But we’ll continue to have discussions with them (Russia) in the coming months on the best way to proceed in this area… That is in the interest of all parties involved and provides for security in Europe,” he said.

President Vladimir Putin Saturday signed a decree suspending Russia’s participation in the CFE due to “extraordinary circumstances… that affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures”.

The CFE, signed by 22 states in Paris on Nov 19, 1990, represented an agreement between NATO and Warsaw Pact countries. It was aimed at establishing a balance in Europe by cutting weapons of conventional armed forces.

Russia had threatened several times to withdraw from the CFE when it was at odds with the US over Washington plans to install a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe.

NATO spokesman James Appathurai told Brussels-based media that the Russian decision is “a disappointing move, a step backwards” as “NATO considers this treaty to be an important foundation of European security and stability”.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed “great concern” over Russia’s pullout of the treaty.

Steinmeier, who was in Lithuania for a visit, said the CFE was a central element in the international architecture of disarmament. “That is why we obviously regard Moscow’s announcement with great concern.

“In the next few days we will see what concrete measures will be taken because of this announcement,” he said, adding that he hoped Russia would go no further than suspend the treaty.

Russia’s Baltic neighbours, Latvia and Estonia, believe that Moscow’s decision directly threatens the security of the NATO and Baltic countries. They hoped the decision would not trigger a new round of arms race.

The Czech Republic said it saw no “factual grounds” for the Kremlin to take such a step.

“The treaty is one of the cornerstones of European security and withdrawing from it can mean a threat to European security,” said Zuzana Opletalova, the Czech foreign ministry spokeswoman.

Romania also expressed “disappointment” over the Russian withdrawal from the treaty.