Russia Officially Backs Out of CFE Agreement

Russia declared this week it will no longer participate in a Vienna-based consultative on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), making good on a 2007 promise to eventually pull out of the conventional weapons agreement. Russian diplomats said they are withdrawing because NATO countries are dodging the terms of the agreement, which was signed just prior to the end of the Cold War, citing the Alliance’s eastward expansion since the Cold War. Russia claims the expansion has continued despite its protestation of “harmful impacts” on the treaty’s controls, reported the Russian state-owned TASS news wire. This does not mean rejection of “further dialogue on control over conventional armed forces in Europe,” Russian diplomat Anton Mazur, who leads the Russian delegation in Vienna on arms control issues, told TASS. Russia remains open to working on a “new regime of control” over conventional armed forces in Europe that meets both Russian and other European countries’ interests, he added. Speaking with reporters in Brussels Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was “disappointed” by the decision, but NATO supports continued efforts to regulate conventional forces in Europe. “We believe that to have consultations on arms control, arms reduction is important,” he said, adding later in the conference that NATO continues to see delivery of heavy equipment and weapons to fighters in eastern Ukraine.