NATO Refuses To Reduce Its European Arsenals
Voice of Russia
December 5, 2012
NATO reluctant to reduce its European arsenals
Despite approving a new cooperation programme, the latest session of the NATO-Russia Council which took place in Brussels Tuesday failed to bring progress on the issue of conventional forces on the European continent.
In 1990, NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact clinched what is known as the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which set limits on conventional deployments in the area between the North Atlantic and the Ural Mountains.
In less than a year, the Warsaw Pact was no more. The treaty needed updating, which came in 1999 at the Istanbul conference of Europe’s OSCE security organization. A new CFET [CFE] treaty emerged, setting national quotas on conventional forces deployments. Unfortunately, only Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan have ratified it to date. The NATO powers refuse to ratify, arguing, rather illogically, that Russia must withdraw its forces from Moldova’s Dnestr Region, South Ossetia and Abkhazia first.
Ever since 1999, Russia has also been seeking more liberal limits on conventional deployments in its South and North and insisting that the CFET treaty be applied to the new Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The three Baltic NATO members have never been signatories, allowing NATO to bypass CFET limitations and build up forces on their territories.
In 2007, faced with this, and also with NATO’s eastward expansion policy, Russia declared a moratorium on its compliance with the CFET limits. This, however, has failed to change the fact that NATO’s conventional forces in Eastern Europe are superior to Russia’s, forcing Moscow to seek reasonable caps on conventional forces deployments. In mid-November, Russian NATO Ambassador Alexander Grushko proposed to uncouple conventional forces talks from politics and restart them from square one. NATO, however, will not budge.
The Voice of Russia has an opinion from Chairman of the Russian Defence Ministry’s Public Support Council Dr Igor Korotchenko:
“It will not budge for at least seven years, because the situation as it is gives it a clear strategic advantage. Measured in terms of conventional forces deployed along Russia’s western and southern borders, its military superiority is close to four to one. I believe NATO will continue to stall talks about conventional forces in Europe.”
Indeed, the last time it mentioned the conventional forces problem was in December 2011, when a NATO summit said in its closing declaration that the Alliance expected Russia to return to compliance with the current CFET treaty. This means there is no compromise on the horizon.