NATO decries Russian threat to withdraw from arms reduction treaty

By RIA Novosti

Moscow : NATO has condemned Moscow's threat to impose a unilateral moratorium on an arms reduction treaty between the Western security alliance and the erstwhile Eastern Bloc countries, warning of serious consequences.

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In its report Tuesday, the NATO office said if Russia were to suspend its commitments under the treaty, this would be a direct violation of the document, and warned that as Russia has the greatest military power in Europe, its non-participation in the treaty would lead to serious consequences.

President Vladimir Putin had earlier said Russia could withdraw from the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, arguing that the pact had not been ratified by any NATO member states. NATO members have demanded that Russia first withdraw from the Soviet-era bases in Georgia and Moldova under previous agreements.

The original CFE treaty, amended in 1999 in Istanbul in line with post-Cold War realities, has so far only been ratified by Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine. The aim of the pact is to force members to reduce their conventional military forces.

Moscow has pointed out that NATO newcomers Slovakia and the three Baltic states have not joined the CFE treaty at all, despite a preliminary agreement that they would do so.

Russia, concerned over Europe's refusal to ratify the re-drafted version of the accord, and the acceptance by certain European Union states of US missile shield plans on the continent, proposed last week holding an emergency CFE conference in Vienna on June 12-15.