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Russia suspends observance of arms control treaty
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10:45, July 15, 2007

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree suspending Russia's participation in the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), the Kremlin press service said Saturday.

During the CFE treaty suspension Russia will not be bound by any conventional weapons limits. Information provision and inspections will be suspended for some time, the Russia Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the Kremlin announcement.

Real Russian weaponry numbers will depend on military and political needs, including readiness of other treaty member countries to show adequate restraint, the statement said.

However, the Russian moratorium does not mean that the door is closed to further dialogue. In the event of the raised questions being settled, it will be possible to promptly ensure collective observance of the treaty provisions, the statement said.

The move is taken "due to the extraordinary circumstances affecting Russia's security that require immediate measures," it said.

Among the extraordinary circumstances are the serious problems with NATO countries' observance of the treaty in connection with the NATO enlargement and their delay in ratifying the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty signed in 1999, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Putin proposed to the Federal Assembly in April to declare a moratorium on Russia's observance of the treaty.

A special conference of the treaty member countries was called on Russia's initiative in Vienna on June 12. After the conference, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's department for security and disarmament affairs, Anatoly Antonov, said that Russia was not satisfied with the conference results. The meeting failed to adopt a final document.

The Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe signed by 22 statesin Paris on November 19, 1990, represented an agreement between NATO members and Warsaw Treaty countries. It was aimed at establishing a balance in Europe by cutting weapons of conventional armed forces. The document came into force on November 9, 1992.

The adapted treaty was signed in 1999. Only four countries -- Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia -- have ratified the adapted treaty. Though the document has not come into force, the countries have observed it.

Russia's decision to suspend the CFE treaty and other international agreements related to it is a logical step, as the treaty in its present shape has become outdated, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak told reporters Saturday.

"Signed in 1990, it regulated relations between the military-political alliances, NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Neither the Soviet Union nor the Warsaw Pact exist today, while NATO is continuing to enlarge and go beyond the limits stipulated by the treaty. Some of the new NATO members do not fall under the limits at all," Kislyak said.

"I would like to emphasize: we are not shutting the door to dialogue. We have put forth our proposals on how to handle this situation to our partners. We still expect a constructive response," Kislyak was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

Source: Xinhua

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