Extraordinary Conference Fails to Achieve Agreement on CFE Treaty Dispute

Extraordinary Conference Fails to Achieve Agreement on CFE Treaty Dispute

The Russian government warned that it might implement its threatened unilateral "moratorium" on observing its commitments under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty after an extraordinary conference of the treaty signatories, held this past week in Vienna, failed to address Moscow's concerns. Russia called for the emergency meeting, the first in CFE history, after complaining for months about the stalemated status of the treaty's implementation.

Anatoly Antonov, the chief of the Russian Foreign Ministry's security and disarmament department and head of the Russian delegation to the conference, told the session that Russia remains committed to conventional arms control in Europe. Nevertheless, he argued that "Europe has changed, and this circumstance necessitates a modernization of the set of tools used to achieve these goals."

Another member of the Russian delegation, Mikhail Ulyanov, explained that such "modernization" would require taking into account NATO's post-1999 enlargement, which brought 10 East European countries into the alliance by 2004. In addition, he called for further relaxations of the restrictions limiting Russia's flexibility to deploy troops on its northern and southern flanks. Russian officials complain that the CFE treaty constrains their deployments while not affecting the expanding U.S. military presence in southeast Europe.

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