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Russia to resume Europe arms treaty if West ratifies: Putin

[JURIST] Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] said Monday that Russia will recommence participation in the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) [text; backgrounder] if western nations ratify the treaty. NATO is currently discussing the possibility of ratifying an adapted CFE, according to a spokesperson. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov [official profile] also demanded in a statement that NATO be allowed lesser amounts of "treaty-limited equipment" under a revised CFE and that flank limitations on Russia be ended. RIA Novosti has more.

Last week, Putin signed into law [JURIST report] a measure suspending Russia's responsibilities under the CFE. The Federation Council of Russia, Russia's upper house, unanimously approved [JURIST report] the measure earlier this month following a unanimous vote in the State Duma [JURIST report] in favor of suspending the CFE. The Russian government first threatened to temporarily withdraw [JURIST report] from the treaty in June, amid tensions between the US and Russia over US plans for an anti-missile defense shield in central Europe, which Russia perceives to be a threat to Russian national security. In April, Putin told both houses of the Russian parliament that he was suspending Russia's implementation of the CFE Treaty [JURIST report] due to what he called a US-led NATO military "build up" in Europe, and said he would explore the possibility of ending Russia's commitments under the treaty.

The CFE Treaty, concluded in 1990 by the 22 members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, regulates deployment of non-nuclear forces in Europe. In October, Putin also threatened to withdraw [JURIST report] Russia from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty [US DOS backgrounder] unless that treaty is expanded to include neighboring countries such as China, India, and Pakistan. This past Wednesday, Russian officials said they wanted replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with a formal, binding agreement [JURIST report] with the US that will limit the creation of new nuclear weapons. That treaty, which signaled the end of the Cold War, will expire in 2009. The Bush administration has said that it wants to replace START with an informal agreement that does not include the strict verification requirements of the current treaty.

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