NATO calls on Russia to rejoin arms control treaty

March 29th, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by admin  

Brussels, March 29 (DPA) The NATO military alliance called on Russia to rejoin a post-Cold War era treaty that regulates armed forces in Europe, and warned that it would not uphold its end of the deal indefinitely if no solution could be found. The Western alliance’s late Friday statement came just days before outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin meets European leaders and US President George W. Bush at a NATO summit in Romania next week.

Russia unilaterally pulled out of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty in December, accusing NATO members of failing to ratify an adapted 1999 version of the agreement that is considered a cornerstone of Europe’s national security policy.

Russian military officials were also angered at NATO troop inspections connected to the treaty and demands that Moscow withdraw forces from breakaway regions in the former Soviet states of Georgia and Moldova.

NATO in a statement insisted it had met “all of the concerns Russia has raised” over the CFE in a package of measures proposed by the US and backed by its Western allies in the fall of 2007.

According to the proposal, NATO members would have moved forward with ratifying the 1999 addition while Russia at the same time addressed “outstanding issues” over its Georgia and Moldova forces.

The alliance said it has continued to implement the CFE treaty “in good faith” since December, but warned that “this situation cannot be sustained indefinitely”.

The CFE treaty, first agreed in 1990, places a cap on weapons programmes, including on tanks and other armoured vehicles, artillery systems, fighter planes and helicopters.

“Russia’s ’suspension’ risks eroding the integrity of the CFE regime and undermines the cooperative approach to security which has been a core of the NATO-Russia relationship and European security for nearly two decades,” the statement said.

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