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Putin signs law suspending European arms control treaty

By RIA Novosti

Moscow : Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday signed a law putting a temporary suspension on Moscow’s participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, the Kremlin’s press service said.

The law has been unanimously approved by both the houses of Russian parliament and will become effective from Dec 12 midnight.

Russia considers the existing CFE treaty as discriminatory and outdated since it does not reflect the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact following the break up of the Soviet Union or the recent NATO expansion.

In December 1990, six Warsaw Pact members and 16 NATO member countries had signed the original CFE Treaty, which had set equal limits for all the sides on five categories of conventional weapons, such as battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, artillery pieces, combat aircraft and attack helicopters.

A modified version of the arms control treaty, which Western countries consider a cornerstone of European security, was signed Nov 19, 1999 by all NATO countries except Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovenia.

Only Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan have ratified the adapted version of the document. NATO countries have been insisting on Russia’s withdrawal from Moldova and Georgia as a condition for their ratification of the modified CFE Treaty.

Speaking to reporters in Madrid Thursday after an annual meeting of the council of foreign ministers of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “NATO member countries have literally imposed in 2001 their own moratorium on the adapted version of the CFE treaty.”

“Despite the fact that Russia had fulfilled all its obligations under the so-called Istanbul agreements by that time (2001), they (NATO countries) linked the ratification of the adapted CFE document to Russia’s fulfilment of additional conditions, which have nothing to do with the CFE treaty,” Lavrov said.

The Russian minister reiterated that the upcoming moratorium did not stipulate that Russia would permanently pull out of the CFE Treaty, and would resume its implementation as soon as NATO countries ratified the adapted version.

“We are now open to dialogue and a joint search for possible solutions that could lead to immediate ratification of the adapted CFE treaty and revival of the system of control over conventional weapons in Europe,” Lavrov added.