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Gorbachev: Russia's Suspension of Arms Treaty Justified

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev says Russia's decision to suspend participation in a major European arms treaty is an "absolutely logical" move.

Mr. Gorbachev signed the original Conventional Forces in Europe treaty - a key Cold War-era agreement with the United States and NATO - in 1990.

The treaty was revised in 1999, after the Warsaw Pact communist alliance was dissolved, but neither the United States nor NATO's members have ratified those changes. Mr. Gorbachev tells Russia's Interfax news agency it would be "incomprehensible" for Moscow to abide by the treaty under those circumstances.

U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in central Europe are widely seen as the major factor behind Russia's treaty suspension. Mr. Gorbachev, however, says Russia wants to save the treaty, by reopening talks on the accord.

The United States, NATO and the European Union all have said they are disappointed by Mr. Putin's suspension of the treaty.

Mr. Putin hinted at such action earlier this year and linked the treaty issue to the U.S. missile plan. Official announcement of the Kremlin decree on Saturday in Moscow did not mention the missile proposal, but a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said the decision was based NATO's failure to ratify the 1999 revision.

The conventional-forces treaty put specific limits on the number of tanks, heavy artillery and fighter jets that could be deployed in Europe or western Russia - from the Atlantic Coast to the Ural Mountains - and the original version is credited for major reductions in military hardware in the region after 1992.

The United States and its NATO allies refused to ratify the revised treaty in 1999 after Russia refused to withdraw troops it has stationed in the former Soviet republics, including Georgia and Moldova.