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Analysts praise Russia’s walkout from Treaty of Conventional Armed Forces in Europe

March 11, 2015, 15:33 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Yuri Smityuk

MOSCOW, March 11. /TASS/. Russia took a step in the right direction when it walked out of the treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe (CFE), because the Western partners had invariably turned a deaf ear to Russia’s viewpoint anyway, polled Russian experts have told TASS. In their opinion the decision was quite legitimate and would by no means spoil relations with the West further.

Starting from March 11, 2015 Russia suspended its participation in meetings of the Joint Consultative Group, the chief Russian negotiator at military security and arms control talks in Vienna, Anton Mazur, said on Tuesday.

Russia’s decision declared eight years ago to freeze its compliance with the CFE treaty has now reached a logical outcome. "The Russian side has for many years been doing its utmost for the sake of maintaining the viability of the regime of control of conventional armaments. It initiated talks on the CFE treaty’s adaptation, and it ratified the adaptation agreement," Mazur said. In the meantime, NATO countries "in fact preferred to sidestep the CFE provisions by expanding the alliance."

The CFE treaty was concluded by NATO and the member-countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organization in 1990. Both blocs were allowed to have the same amount of conventional armaments and combat vehicles. However, after the breakup of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, and later, of the USSR, there developed an imbalance of forces with NATO’s expansion to the territories of the Soviet Union’s former allies. The treaty no longer met the interests of Russia’s national security. Moscow joined the adapted version of the treaty, but most of the European countries have not ratified it to this day. In 2007 Russia suspended compliance with the CFE terms.

An overwhelming majority of Russian experts have pointed out that the CFE treaty is long dead and the declaration of Russia’s walkout from the Joint Consultative Group is sheer formality.

"We will save a lot of money on the travel expenses of our specialists," the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets quotes the president of the International Centre of Geopolitical Analysis, Leonid Ivashov, as saying. "The treaty is dead. We have kept that group hoping for the future, for joint efforts by the NATO countries and Russia to draft a new version of the treaty. We had hoped to spread the operation of that treaty to sea-based weapons. But there was no progress and in the context of the current situation in relations between NATO and Russia the chances of success are equal to nought. It is very right we have walked out."

The editor-in-chief of the Arsenal of Motherland magazine, Colonel Viktor Murakhovsky, has told TASS the decision to leave the Joint Consultative Group "is a purely symbolic gesture, indicating the senselessness of further participation in these contacts, because they can lead to nothing."

"All attempts at coming to terms with the JCG partners were unsuccessful. The Western partners are absolutely deaf to us," he said. "They refused to adapt the CFE treaty to the modern realities, so Russia is not obliged to spend resources and efforts to participate in JCG sessions." Murakhovsky is certain that no significant response to this step by Russia will follow either from Europe or the United States.

Besides, some NATO countries, including the Baltic states, are not signatories to the CFE treaty at all. "They are the CFE treaty’s black hole and NATO countries pretend it does not exist. In the meantime, NATO’s military activity near Russia’s borders keeps growing."

Analysts see no reasons for interpreting the decision to leave the JCG as a response to soaring tensions over the Ukrainian crisis. "The CFE is a legacy of the past, and the withdrawal from the JCG is by no means connected with the current state of affairs," special projects editor for Arsenal magazine, Gennady Zadneprovsky, told TASS. "We are out and that’s fine."

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