The United States, NATO and several European states on Saturday expressed disappointment over Russia's suspension of its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE).
"We're disappointed Russia has suspended its participation for now," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement.
"But we'll continue to have discussions with them 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," Johndroe said.
The Kremlin announced on Saturday that President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree suspending Russia's participation in the CFE due to "extraordinary circumstances ... which 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 members 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 United States over U.S. plans to install a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.
NATO spokesman James Appathurai told Brussels-based media on Saturday 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 neighbors, Latvia and Estonia, believed Russia's decision directly threatens the security of the NATO and Baltic countries. They hoped the decision will not trigger a new round of arms race.
Latvian Foreign Minister Artis Pabriks said that his country will consult with European Union (EU) and NATO countries and that Latvia will take the side of the EU and NATO.
Estonia's Foreign Minister Urmas Paet described Russia's treaty suspension as "bad news," and hoped it will not trigger a new round of arms race.
The Czech Republic regretted Russia's decision to pull out of the CFE, saying it sees no "factual grounds" for 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," Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalova said Saturday.
Romania also expressed "disappointment" over the Russian withdrawal from the treaty.
"Romania considers that the CFE treaty represents a basis for European security," the Romanian Foreign Ministry ministry said, adding that it hoped that dialogue between the states participating in the CFE treaty will be maintained and that "all of the states will continue to respect their obligations within the framework of the treaty."