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The Facts Of CFE Part One

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Sergei Oznobishchev
Moscow (UPI) Jan 4, 2008
A moratorium on the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe is a result of a decision that Russia should base its relations with the West on a foundation of principle.

In simpler terms, Russia has finally decided to get tough in defending its interests.

It seems the hope in Moscow is that by taking such drastic measures to address its own security concerns, it will prompt the other participants in the European process to continue to promote military security in Europe. But this can only happen if Russia's voice is heard.

President Vladimir Putin's speech in Munich, Germany, in which he lashed out against U.S. foreign policy, was a prelude to the current developments. In what was primarily an attempt to make the West listen to what Russian policymakers and experts are saying, he bluntly said that NATO's eastward expansion is a huge concern for Moscow -- an idea that has been voiced since the Gorbachev era, that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty -- from which the United States unilaterally withdrew -- is a cornerstone of strategic stability, and that Russia is very sensitive to the development and deployment of new weapons systems. Being well aware of these concerns, Moscow's Western partners took unilateral steps without bothering to inform, let alone consult, Russia.

They refused to ratify the modified CFE Treaty -- that is, the second version of the original CFE Treaty signed in 1990 -- concluded at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit in Istanbul in 1999 because of Russia's bilateral agreements with Georgia and Moldova.

Importantly, under these agreements Russia has not made any commitment to withdraw weapons and military units from either republic's territory. The joint Russian-Georgian declaration merely mentioned that during 2000, the sides would complete talks on the terms and procedures for the operation of Russian military bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki, and Russian military facilities on Georgian territory. In the case of Moldova, Russia promised to consider the question of weapons stored in Moldova, or Transdnestr, since Soviet times.

Although the legal link between these two documents and the modified CFE Treaty was very dubious, Russia went a long way in its cooperation with Georgia and Moldova to withdraw troops and weapons. This effort could not be completed for reasons beyond Russia's control, like clouded bilateral relations.

Refusing to ratify the modified treaty for eight years, the Western countries have blocked the implementation in Europe of its revolutionary provisions, which for the first time were founded on bloc-free principles. At the same time, NATO's expansion has formally increased its military potential, exceeding the group restrictions of the still-valid 1990 treaty.

(Next: Explaining Russia's response)

(Sergei Oznobishchev is director of the Strategic Assessments Institute in Moscow. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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Washington (UPI) Dec 31, 2007
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