Russian Oligarchs

Conventional Armed Forces: Russia’s Astonishing Withdrawal from the Treaty

The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) was another international weapons limitation accord from which Russia formally withdrew.

Russia Withdraws Treaty on ConventionalRussia has officially pulled out of a global security pact that restricts the use of conventional weapons, claiming that NATO’s growth makes such cooperation impractical.

Russia formally withdrew from the historic Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) at midnight on Tuesday, after its public announcement earlier this year of its intention to do so.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described it as a thing of the past and said that the treaty did not serve Russia’s interests, pointing out that as NATO’s membership grew, countries had begun to circumvent its restrictions.

Russia Withdraws Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces
Russia Withdraws Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces

Less than a week had passed since President Vladimir Putin withdrew his country’s support for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which forbids the testing of nuclear weapons in any capacity. He also launched an intercontinental ballistic missile test from one of the nation’s submarines, which was capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.
Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

What is the CFE?

The CFE agreement, which came into effect in 1990, soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, placed restrictions on military gear and conventional weapons. Its goal was to keep Cold War foes from assembling forces ready for an immediate strike. Moscow opposed the deal at that time because it put them at a disadvantage with conventional weapons.

Russia suspended its participation in 2007 and stopped actively participating in 2015, according to NATO, which claims that Russia has been breaking the terms of the treaty for a long time.

In May 2022, more than a year after it launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Putin issued an order criticizing the agreement.

Conventional Armed Forces
Conventional Armed Forces

“The CFE Treaty was concluded at the end of the Cold War, when the formation of a new architecture of global and European security based on cooperation seemed possible, and appropriate attempts were made,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“Even the formal preservation of the CFE Treaty has become unacceptable from the point of view of Russia’s fundamental security interests,” the ministry added, noting that the US and its allies did not ratify an updated version of the accord in 1999.

The US and its allies had made the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia and Moldova a condition for ratifying the amended 1999 CFE. According to Russia, the linkage was incorrect.

Relations with US ‘below zero’

Moscow’s relations with Western countries are currently experiencing their worst crisis since the end of the Cold War as a result of the crisis in Ukraine. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said over the weekend that relations with the US had seriously deteriorated.

NATO previously criticized Russia’s decision to leave the CFE, claiming that it hurt security in the Euro-Atlantic region.

Russia's decision to leave the CFE
Russia’s decision to leave the CFE

“Russia has for many years, not complied with its CFE obligations,” NATO said in June. “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and Belarus’ complicity are contrary to the objectives of the CFE Treaty.”

According to the State Department, the US and NATO withdrew from their treaty with Russia in 2011 in reaction to what Washington saw as a Russian “suspension” of the agreement, which they felt was illegal.

Some information in this report was taken from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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