NATO Accepts Russian CFE Compliance, but Wants More

Article excerpt

NATO MEMBERS INFORMED Russia in July meetings that they accept its claims of being in compliance with weapons limits set out in the adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, but they also urged Moscow to fulfill other CFE-related obligations regarding Georgia and Moldova.

Since the November 1999 update of the CFE Treaty, the 19-member alliance had been pressing Moscow to reduce the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), and artillery it deployed in its northern and southern "flank" regions, which border Europe and the Black Sea. As part of the 1999 treaty overhaul, NATO agreed to relax the limits on the amount of heavy ground weaponry that Russia could keep in its flank areas, but Russia's deployments still remained in excess of what was permitted.

The revised version of the treaty has not yet entered into force because NATO members conditioned their ratification of the adapted treaty on Russia complying with the accord's terms. All 30 states-parties must ratify the adapted treaty for it to replace the original CFE Treaty, signed in 1990, which currently remains in force.

Russia declared early this year that it had met the revised limits, but NATO did not immediately accept the Kremlin's claim and set out to verify it. Although NATO members concluded in July that there were still some uncertainties about Russia's compliance, alliance members also found no evidence that Russian forces were exceeding their flank limits of 1,300 tanks, 2,140 ACVs, and 1,680 artillery pieces.

Despite being satisfied with Moscow's weapons limit compliance, NATO members are still waiting before they ratify the adapted treaty because Russia has not fulfilled additional pledges it gave in November 1999 to withdraw its arms and forces from Georgia and Moldova. Russia has made some headway on meeting these commitments, but its efforts have stalled over the past several months. …