Russia denounces Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, raising concerns of arms race in Europe

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25th May 2023 – (St Petersburg) Russia’s upper house of parliament announced on Wednesday that its senators had approved a bill to denounce the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). The move came after Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted a draft law on the denunciation of the CFE Treaty to the lower house of parliament on May 10, which was then adopted on 16th May.

The CFE Treaty was initially signed in 1990 by NATO members and six former Warsaw Treaty states. It came into force in 1992 and introduced limits on major types of conventional military equipment in Europe. The Treaty also provided for the destruction of surplus weapons. In 1999, an updated version of the treaty was signed, but only four countries – Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine – ratified it.

In 2007, Russia suspended its participation in the CFE Treaty until NATO countries ratified its updated version. The suspension came after NATO’s eastward expansion and the establishment of U.S. missile defense systems in Europe. Russia argued that it could no longer be bound by the treaty’s limits as it had become obsolete due to the changes in the security environment in Europe.

The CFE Treaty has been an essential tool for regulating arms control in Europe, but its effectiveness has been undermined by the changing security environment and the lack of universal participation. The treaty’s current state is a reflection of the tensions between Russia and NATO, which have been heightened in recent years due to a range of factors, including the Ukraine crisis andRussia’s annexation of Crimea.

The recent move by Russia to denounce the treaty has caused concern among NATO member states, who fear that it could lead to an arms race in Europe. The treaty was designed to ensure transparency and predictability in military activities and to prevent the buildup of conventional military forces that could threaten regional stability.

By denouncing the treaty, Russia has signaled its intention to pursue its own military agenda without any external constraints. This move could embolden other countries to follow suit and weaken the international arms control regime.

The denunciation of the CFE Treaty is just one of several recent actions taken by Russia that have raised concerns among NATO member states. Russia has been modernizing its military capabilities and increasing its military presence in the Arctic, the Black Sea, and the Middle East. It has also been accused of meddling in the domestic affairs of other countries and conducting cyber-attacks.

The denunciation of the CFE Treaty is likely to further strain Russia’s relations with NATO member states. It could lead to a political backlash and further deteriorate the already fragile security situation in Europe. The move is also likely to have an impact on future arms control negotiations, as it undermines the credibility of international agreements and the trust between countries.