Russia Has Mixed Success with CFE Implementation

Article excerpt

RUSSIA SHOWED MIXED success in July toward meeting commitments under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and related agreements, missing a July 1 deadline to vacate a military base in Georgia but reducing the number of weapons located in Moldova.

In November 1999, Russia committed to closing two of its four military bases in Georgia by July 1, 2001, and to withdraw all its CFE-limited weaponry from Moldova by the end of 2001. The CFE Treaty caps the number of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), heavy artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters that its 30 states-parties can deploy and store between the Atlantic Ocean and the Ural Mountains.

Although it officially handed over control of a Russian military base in Vaziani, Georgia, to Tbilisi on June 29, Russia failed to vacate a base at Gudauta by the July 1 deadline. Moscow claimed the local population had blocked Russian efforts to leave the base and that Georgia had failed to take necessary steps to ensure a safe withdrawal of Russian forces from the region.

Georgia dismissed Russia's claims, contending that it had proposed alternative ways for Moscow to complete its withdrawal, including destruction of weaponry located at the base, but that Russia had rejected these suggestions. In a July 2 statement released by its Foreign Ministry Georgia called on Russia to "take immediate and exhaustive measures for timely and complete fulfillment" of its withdrawal obligations.

The two governments are now holding talks to find a compromise, including the possibility of allowing a few hundred Russian troops to remain at the base. They are also trying to negotiate terms for Russia's withdrawal from two other Georgian bases, which Tbilisi wants done within a three-year period, while Moscow is seeking a time frame of up to 14 years. …