Russia has formally withdrawn from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), citing NATO’s expansion as a barrier to cooperation. The move follows Russia’s recent revocation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Background: The CFE Treaty
- Signed in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the CFE aimed to limit conventional arms and prevent a rapid build-up of forces between Cold War rivals.
- Moscow, holding an advantage in conventional weaponry at the time, was initially reluctant to embrace the pact.
Russia’s Perspective on the CFE
- Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared the CFE as “history,” stating that the treaty did not align with Russia’s interests.
- They argued that NATO countries had been bypassing restrictions as the alliance expanded, rendering the pact irrelevant to Russia’s security concerns.
NATO’s Claims and Russia’s Actions
- NATO accused Russia of non-compliance with the CFE for years, pointing to Moscow’s suspension of participation in 2007 and complete withdrawal in 2015.
- Russia, after a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, officially denounced the CFE in May 2023.
- The U.S. and its allies had linked ratification of the adapted 1999 CFE to Russia’s withdrawal of troops from Georgia and Moldova, a linkage Moscow contested.
CFE Treaty: A Relic of the Cold War
- The Russian Foreign Ministry argued that the CFE Treaty, conceived at the end of the Cold War, no longer served its purpose in the current geopolitical landscape.
- They noted that the U.S. and its allies failed to ratify an updated version of the accord in 1999, further diminishing the treaty’s relevance.
U.S.-Russia Relations in Crisis
- Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, characterized relations with the U.S. as “below zero,” emphasizing the deepening crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine.
- NATO condemned Russia’s CFE withdrawal, asserting that it undermined Euro-Atlantic security.
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