Russia is about to withdraw from a key arms agreement with the West. The lower house of parliament, the Duma, has voted to suspend participation of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, signed by the then-Warsaw Pact and NATO 17 years ago. The CFE limits the number and type of non-nuclear forces on the Continent. Russia will withdraw from its limitations next month, after announcing its intentions earlier in the year.
Today’s vote must still be ratified by the upper house, and President Putin himself. The CFE was signed by then-President Gorbachev and the elder George Bush in Paris in November 1990. Moscow has been irritated by what it sees as NATO encroachment on its borders, including American plans for an anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. The airforce has recently resumed its long-range bomber patrols outside Russian airspace.