NATO members have voiced their concern over Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the CFE treaty which limits conventional armed forces in Europe. Russia is worried about US plans for a missile shield in Europe, worries which US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has dismissed as unwarranted.
Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, confirmed the words of President Vladimir Putin saying, “We cannot be dispassionate about the fact NATO military infrastructure is creeping towards our borders. It worries us that since 1999 we have not succeeded in doing anything to extend the period of time on the issue of arms control. If this discussion does not bring any radical changes and if our partners persevere in not ratifying the Treaty, then Russia will be to obliged to suspend commitment to the treaty.”
NATO Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, is also worried about that decision. “That message was met by concern, grave concern, disappointment and regret. The allies are of the opinion that the CFE is one of the cornerstones of European security.”
The Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe was signed in 1990 by the-then 22 members of NATO plus the Warsaw Pact countries.
In 1999, following the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, the CFE was updated but has only been ratified by Russia and three other states so far: Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. NATO members have been waiting for Russia to withdraw its remaining troops from Georgia and Moldova.