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Putin Signs Law Suspending Russian Participation in Arms Treaty


President Vladimir Putin has signed a law suspending Russia's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. VOA Correspondent Peter Fedynsky reports from Moscow.

Word that President Putin signed a law suspending the CFE Treaty came in a brief statement issued by the Kremlin. The suspension goes into effect on December 12.

The treaty, considered a key element of European security, places limits on conventional arms, such as tanks, heavy artillery and combat aircraft that may be deployed between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. It was negotiated in 1990 by members of NATO and the now defunct Warsaw Pact and updated in 1999. However, Western nations refuse to ratify the amended 1999 version until Russia withdraws its forces from Georgia and Moldova.

President Putin announced the suspension plan in July in response to a U.S. proposal to build a missile defense system in Central Europe. Washington says the system is designed as a defense against Iran, but Moscow views it as a threat to Russian security. Both houses of the Russian parliament voted unanimously in favor of suspension.

On November 20, Mr. Putin said Western nations are moving military assets in Russia's direction. The Kremlin leader said, "We see violations of the previous agreement with the expansion of military resources of various countries and NATO near our borders."

But Alexander Khramchekhyn, research director at Moscow's Institute for Political and Military Analysis told VOA that neither Russia nor NATO countries have violated quotas established by the CFE Treaty.

Khramchekhyn says the Kremlin mostly likely realizes that there has been no major violation, so he interprets Russia's harsh anti-Western statements as domestic campaign rhetoric.

At the same time, the Russian military analyst says NATO should recognize that Russian forces have been largely withdrawn from Georgia, with only peacekeeping forces staying behind.

"And in Moldova," said Khramchekhyn, "there is a purely symbolic force that is guarding arsenals, which protects Europe from an uncontrolled and vast spread of illegal weapons." In this regard, he says he is surprised by NATO's position on Russian forces in Moldova.

Speaking in Madrid Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country would continue seeking a compromise with NATO for a return to the CFE Treaty even after December 12.

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