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Russian Upper House of Parliament Votes to Suspend Key Arms Treaty

The upper house of Russia's parliament has voted unanimously to suspend a key Soviet-era arms pact with NATO that limits troops and conventional weapons in Europe.

The Federation Council vote came a week after a similar vote by the lower house, the State Duma. The suspension is to take effect December 12.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Itar-Tass news agency that Russia is ready to implement an updated Conventional Forces in Europe treaty if NATO countries ratify it.

The Soviet Union and NATO countries first signed the treaty in 1990. They updated it in 1999 to reflect the collapse of the Soviet Union. But NATO allies have refused to ratify it until Russia fulfills its commitment to withdraw forces from Georgia and Moldova.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said there is no connection between the treaty and those deployments, which the Kremlin calls peacekeeping missions.

The United States has said that some NATO allies are ready to start ratification procedures if Russia commits to pulling its remaining troops out of Georgia and Moldova. The treaty is responsible for the destruction of more than 60,000 pieces of military equipment since it was first signed.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, and AP.