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Russia votes to leave European arms control treaty
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11:59, November 17, 2007

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The upper house of Russia's parliament, the Federation Council, voted on Friday to approve Russia's suspension of compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, news agencies reported.

The lower parliament chamber, the State Duma, approved the law on the suspension on Nov. 7. The moratorium takes effect on Dec. 12.

The bill was submitted to the lower chamber by President Vladimir Putin after signing a decree in July on Russia's moratorium on the treaty.

Putin said earlier Russia's decision was "prompted by the fact that the treaty no longer meets military and political realities in Europe and therefore does not duly protect Russia's security interests."

By leaving the CFE treaty, Russia would temporarily stop providing information and allowing inspections and would not be bound by any commitment on conventional armaments, Vasily Likhachyov, deputy chairman of the upper chamber's international affairs committee, was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying.

The CFE is aimed at striking a balance between NATO members and former Warsaw Pact countries over conventional forces in Europe.

The treaty, which came into force in 1992, puts limits on tanks and troops deployed in NATO countries and former Warsaw Pact nations in eastern Europe and lays down measures aimed at boosting confidence-building, transparency and cooperation among member states.

The suspension of the treaty does not imply withdrawal from it and is "an indicator of Russia's seriousness in defending the interests of ensuring its defense capability without compromise," said Leonid Slutsky, the first deputy chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee.

Russia had repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the CFE as Moscow and Washington were wide apart on U.S. plans to expand its missile defense shield to eastern Europe.

Russia and the United States failed to reach any agreement in their October talks in Moscow, where the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries met in a bid to iron out differences on the missile defense plan.

Moscow sees the U.S. plan as posing a threat to its security, while Washington says it is not targeted at Russia.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying earlier that Moscow does not try to scuttle arms control efforts.

"We're not aiming to cause any damage to arms control, but wish to give an impulse to the restoration of the CFE's viability," Kislyak told lawmakers at the State Duma.

"It was a decision of necessity to impose a moratorium on the operation of the treaty, a clear signal to the partners that all the parties -- not only Russia -- must meet their commitments," he said.

Source: Xinhua



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